Freedom Writers

Reading an amazing book on loan from Kristie Wilson called The Freedom Writers Diary. It’s probably a familiar story by now, but it’s a compilation of diary entries from a group of high school students in Long Beach, California in the mid-nineties. A student teacher steps up and challenges the kids to become better people than their rough environment normally produces–gangs, violence, teen pregnancies, absent parents. The kids kept diaries throughout their four years in high school, and although they’re obviously heavily edited, it’s amazing the way they relate teacher Erin Gruwell’s “tolerance” themed curriculum to their own personal lives and try to better themselves through the stories of people who are also suffering.

I really just wanted to make note of/share a quote from one of the students who predicted, mid-semester, what his–or her, the entries are fairly anonymous–final grade in the course would be. He predicted an F, due to a rough home life. “Ms. G” pulled him into the hallway. “Do you know what this ‘F’ means to me? It’s Fuck You, Ms. G, and fuck everyone who’s ever cared about you!”

While I completely love the teacher telling her student this, the best part is what the student took away from it.

“What she showed me today is that a truly self-reliant person takes action, leaving nothing to chance and everything to themselves. She showed me that excuses will not bring about success and that adversity is not something you walk with, but something you leap over. The only obstacles are the ones you allow. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A truly self-reliant person finds his weak link and strengthens it. I want to be a self-reliant person, now and forever.”

I would love to expand on this, make it relate to my own life….but wow. It already does. I guess I need to figure out my weakest link…although as soon as I strengthen that, there will be another weakest link to take its place. I suppose this is what you call a “work in progress.”

  1. #1 by Marie Gilbert on November 7, 2011 - 7:35 am

    Great story!! This story shows the importance of having teachers who are well educated and have compassion for their students. This woman took the time to inspire. We all need a Erin Gruwell in our lives.

  2. #2 by thegetoutgirl on November 7, 2011 - 12:31 pm

    it’s a fascinating story. Erin Gruwell also has a book out called “Teach with Your Heart” that I’m adding to my “must read” list đŸ™‚

  3. #3 by Jennifer M Eaton on November 7, 2011 - 8:21 pm

    Well, if it was me I would have goody-goodied my way around the language, but she probably made her point better this way. I’m glad the student took it well, and did not report her and get her fired.

  4. #4 by L.A. Strucke on April 15, 2012 - 11:00 pm

    “Freedom Fighters” is a cherished part of my permanent book collection. It uplifts and inspires We desperately need more teachers like her in this world. There are so many kids out there that feel that their lives don’t matter, and are going nowhere, due to a poverty stricken environment and lack of support. This book illustrates that teachers can intervene and make a difference in a child’s life. They can change the course of someone’s destiny for the better. I highly recommend it.

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