Her parents divorced when she was still a young girl. Erin originally intended to go to law school to become a lawyer rather than a teacher. After watching the Los Angeles riots on news coverage, she decided to change her profession to a teacher because she believed educating students could make more of a difference. I think that the real fighting should happen here, in the classroom.
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Jan 27, Stevie rated it it was amazing I read a lot of negative reviews about not only this book, but Erin Gruwell as well. I found this book truly inspiring. As I am about to begin my teaching credential, I am full of enthusiasm. One I read a lot of negative reviews about not only this book, but Erin Gruwell as well. Employees get jealous of each other, and criticize other teachers for spending their own money, and going that extra mile to make education a rewarding experience for their students.
It makes me sad that there are teachers out there that do not support each other out of pure jealousy. Before reading this book I had only watched the movie and never truly understood why Erin chose to move on after her kids graduated. I too believed that she had "sold out. I feel that the work she is doing today to educate students, teachers, and even businesses is admirable. As much as I think that there would have been so many other kids that could have benefited from her, there was no need to stay at a school where other teachers did not appreciate her and made her feel as if she was a bad teacher for believing in kids that were meant to fail.
Only a man with insecurities would leave a woman like Erin Gruwell. In my eyes he could have been there supporting her, and that would have made their marriage work. I remember watching a movie about a Utah teacher, Stacey Bess, who taught a group of homeless kids called "Beyond the Blackboard. I have so much compassion for my students and teaching to make sure they progress, graduate and achieve their goals in education, careers and lives that I let them know and try to stay in touch with them even after they leave my class to assure them they are still important, special and valuable in my life and I trust they feel the same about me After reviewing the movie and reading the book, it inspired me as a teacher to care more, give more, and encourage my students to reach for the stars.
I have so much compassion for my students and teaching to make sure they progress, graduate and achieve their goals in education, careers and lives that I let them know and try to stay in touch with them even after they leave my class to assure them they are still important, special and valuable in my life and I trust they feel the same about me and themselves.
This is a reminder of why teaching is the most important profession in our world and Ms. G a model of why we do it. It reveals the ways in which race and class still split people apart and trap them in poverty and violence.
With the other teachers and administrators largely being bigoted and uncaring, and the students being rebellious and mocking, Ms. Gruwell faced much adversity. Male students sexualized her rather than respected her, and both her white colleagues and her racially diverse students thought her idealistic and naive.
Yet, rather than give up, she sought to understand them. She asked about their personal lives, and began learning about rap and sports to be able to compare them to things in literature and history. But when a drawing gets passed around caricaturing a black student, it reminds her of Nazi drawings of Jews, and she berates the class on their making a joke of stereotyping.
None of them had heard about the Holocaust. When she asked how many of them had been shot at, everyone raised their hand. Gruwell learned how some had lost as many as a dozen friends to gang violence. Others attested to being brutalized by police, victimized by parents and other adults, ridiculed by teachers, and constantly fighting with rival gangs. Some faced racial prejudice in stark ways—one classmate lost a friend to a white-supremacist gang, who put his body inside a basketball hoop to intimidate other minorities.
The students not only connected to stories of the Holocaust and war-torn Bosnia, they became extremely moved and got to meet Zlata and Holocaust survivors. While it is clear that Gruwell sacrifices much to help, spending virtually all of her free time staying with students after class to help them with homework, driving them home, or working two additional jobs to afford books and field trips--one can also clearly see the humility and genuineness of her actions.
Perhaps defiant and challenging at times, she never hesitates to remark how she shakes in terror at speaking in front of others. Nor does she fail to fret about her appearance or lack of experience in the efforts she dives into. The point she makes rings home a message of hope: though uncertain and limited, powerful things can happen with passion and love.
She does not hesitate to outline the many benefactors that helped her along the way, whether parents who volunteer to run fundraisers, or businessmen who donate thousands of dollars to send her and students overseas to Europe to visit Auschwitz and Bosnia.
There are many surprises and emotional moments that spring up in this astonishing tale, which is more the memoir of a family than of a person. One of the reasons I like this story so much, aside from it being a tale of hope, is that it shows the power of literature to affect lives in a positive way. Some may dismiss this as a romanticized story of a white person saving the lowly minority, but lives were changed in real ways here. Also, she describes how her students touched her and others as much as she did them.
She got the students to collect their thoughts in what came to be published as the "Freedom Writers Diary," which is a good companion piece to this. These 2 books were used as inspiration for the movie "Freedom Writers," a rather good dramatization of the events and personalities involved.
Teach with Your Heart: Lessons I Learned from the Freedom Writers
Teach with Your Heart