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Module Four - Freedom Writers

Module Four - Freedom Writers - Drug abuse discrimination...

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Drug abuse, discrimination, homelessness, criminal behavior, violence, incarcerated family members and gang activity are only some of the troubles the students at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California faced on a daily basis. When Erin Gruwell appeared as a first- year high school English teacher, she fostered an educational philosophy that valued acceptance, tolerance, diversity, communication and perseverance. Her philosophy and commitment changed her students’ lives. The educational philosophy illustrated in Freedom Writers draws many parallels to the five Marianist Characteristics of Education: Educate for Formation in Faith, Provide an Integral, Quality Education, Educate in the Family Spirit, Educate for Service, Justice and Peace and Educate for Adaption and Change. According to the Marianist Characteristics of Education, the foundation of an education is based on a formation of faith. Similarly, in Freedom Writers , the students of Wilson High needed to have faith in Erin before they took her seriously; Erin needed to establish herself as a reliable source and trustworthy teacher. In order to do that, she asked questions and prepared lessons that related to her students. While remaining true to herself and who she was, she tweaked her lessons to accommodate the students in her classroom. Once her students realized that she was not just another teacher who did not set expectations and accept less than what they were capable of, they began to let their guards down. As Erin’s faith in the students grew, the students’ faith in Erin grew. Another part of the Marianist Characteristics of Education is to “Provide an Integral, Quality Education.” This characteristic calls for a well-informed, professional administration, faculty and staff. Unfortunately, Erin and the students did not have this vital support. Convinced that the students at Wilson High School were “unteachable,” the administration and faculty were reluctant to help Erin make a difference. Two of those less-than-optimistic people were Advanced Placement teacher Brian Gelford and Department Head Margaret Campbell.
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