Quite a while ago, actually 3 days after I started this blog which is almost.. 5 months ago (Jeez time goes fast), I did a post called Bookworm Recommendations. What I did is stare at my bookcase for a while and decided which book I would be most likely to recommend to everyone out of all the books I owned. In that post, I told you all to read House Rules by Jodi Picoult about a teenage boy living with a severe case of Asperger Syndrome. This recommendation still stands of course but I have decided to make Bookworm Recommendations a bit of a regular thing on my blog.. Just so that I have something to talk about whenever I’m at a loss of things to talk about.
The book that I have chosen for today’s episode of Bookworm Recommendations is The Freedom Writers Diary. It is entirely possible that you have heard of the Freedom Writers before either through the news, because you read this book or because you’ve seen the film. If you have seen the film and thought it was a really good fictional story, I am happy to inform you that you were in fact wrong. Ms Erin Gruwell was in fact a real English teacher in Woodrow Wilson High School where gang related violence was at a all time high. She began teaching there with enthusiasm but soon discovered that the students only saw her as a preppy rich bitch and wouldn’t pay any attention to her.
That is until the day that Ms Gruwell intercepted a drawing of a black student with enormous lips. She flew in a rage saying that this was exactly the way that the Nazis used to portray Jews in the second world war and that this is how a holocaust happens – a scene played extremely well by Hillary Swank in the film, I think. Then, one of the students asked her what a holocaust is and she decided right then and there that tolerance was going to be the core of the curriculum.
She took her kids to museums and had them read Anne Frank’s diary and Zlata’s diary instead of the regular curriculum. Little by little her approach started to get attention by the media because these ‘unteachable’ kids suddenly weren’t unteachable anymore. They were doing better than anyone had ever expected in spite of the world telling them that they would fail.
She had her students write in an diary every day which they could turn in at the end of class so that Ms Gruwell could read it if they wanted her to. This is what the book is made up off; anonymous diary entries from the students from room 203. It is a book with horrifying and inspiring stories about the lives of these kids before, during and after the influence of Ms Gruwells English class.
Erin Gruwell moved with her kids through high school and left Woodrow Wilson when they all graduated, taking a job at a University where some of her students would go to study.
These kids, who were doomed by the educational system, who were deemed unteachable and hopeless cases, went to get high school and college degrees. A few of them went on to get Masters degrees and even Phds.
It is a amazingly inspiring book and I recommend it to everyone. If you have read it, please let me know what you thought about it in the comments!