Freedom Writers (2007)


I have been on this recent trend of craving education related movies since watching for Waiting for ‘Superman’ and have even recently forced my close friends to watch Dead Poet’s Society, which is one of my absolute favorites.  I wanted to see if this is one of those inspirational movies as well, and it indeed is.  But I must say that turning around “unteachable” kids would never be my ideal role as a teacher.  I still prefer the role of John Keating, who has a much less hostile setting and must only show his boys that they can think for their own and can reach great heights.

More than anything else, this movie reminded me of Dangerous Minds, except based on a true story.  Movies based on true stories are always that much more inspirational because there is a sense of realism that just can’t fully be reproduced by fictional tales.  It was especially touching to see them come together with each other, then work together to bring over Miep Gies who housed Anne Frank during the Holocaust.  Her talk was inspiring for me as it was for the students in the movie.  Miep Gies was so firm in her belief that she was not a hero, but merely a person doing the right thing.  I think this resonated so deeply with me because it coincides with my extended infatuation with the idea of justice.

It was also interesting to see Imelda Staunton again; her role seemed almost exactly like the one she later portrayed in the Harry Potter movies.  I was afraid that she would turn this movie into another case where the system kept a good teacher from doing her job, but I was pleased to discover that one impediment along the chain of command does not mean that everyone else along the chain is also so obtuse.   But, it is sad and unfortunate that the teacher had to sacrifice so much of her own personal life to achieve success in the classroom.  Hopefully, it was worth it for her when all was said and done.

In the end, I do wonder if what she created can be reproduced again, in some form, in other classrooms.  And as much as I understand the bond between classmates, it may still be important for them to gain perspectives from other peers and other teachers.  From that point of view, I don’t know if I condone actions such as following the same class from their freshman year until high school graduation.  Of course, if the alternative is for them to return to the streets, then staying in the same class for four years isn’t so bad.  There are so many challenges to being a teacher, I can’t imagine how the good ones do so much.  I suppose some people just have a gift.


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