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Teach with Your Heart: Lessons I Learned from The Freedom Writers Paperback – January 15, 2008
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“Ms. G., as the kids called her, embraced a concept that has been lost in modern life: writing can make pain tolerable, confusion clearer, and the self stronger.” — Anna Quindlen, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Rise and Shine
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I would like to respond to the two previous reviewers'critiques of Erin and her book.
First of all, studies have indicated that students do better when they stay with each other and with the same teacher (assuming the teacher is a caring one) for an extended period of time, the longer the better. Erin and her students must have recognized this truth and her example proved this hypothesis quite well. Secondly, so what if Erin only taught for four or five years? I speculate that the difference she made in the lives of her 150 students in those four years is more significant and lasting than the contribution some teachers make to their students in a 20 or 30-year long career. Erin is serving our society and our students on a larger scale by speaking and providing training to teachers on a methodology that yielded astounding success. I don't think she left teaching because she was "burned out". She was smart enough to know that she could serve the world more effectively in a different capacity.
And this one is to the reviewer who called Erin's book "self-serving and trite". Like you, I am sure all of us--as teachers--have spent our own money on our students and felt that every dime has been worthwhile. However, I don't know how many of us has actually worked a second or third job like Erin to cover our students' expenses. Erin is SELFLESS and anything but "self-serving". I am saddened that this extraordinary teacher has been so harshly criticized for what I consider an extraordinary act of love.
Erin Gruwell's passion, energy, and enthusiasm are extremely contagious. Her commitment to working with and caring for her students is what helped her earned her stripes and gain credibility, for they had become acustomed to being called "stupid" or "worthless" and being brushed off as problem children who many other teachers refused to teach.
The book chronicles her start in education with her student teaching stint, up until her Freedom Writers graduated from Wilson H.S. whereby she then went on to work for the University of California as a professor in the Education training program.
Imagine if each and every teacher emulated the qualities "Ms. G," as she is affectionately called by her former students, possess - what a change there would be in our educational outcomes and learning potentials!!
This is a book which reinforces the belief that every single person can make a difference in this world!
Once Gruwell was able to capture the attention of her students and prove to them that she really cared for them, they were able to accomplish some amazing things together. They faced many challenges, the most difficult which seemed to be the usual bureaucratic red tape and school politics. Gruwell persisted and her students were able to overcome their own prejudices and racism and went on to lead better lives.
Stories like Gruwell and The Freedom Writers are encouraging and can be inspirational. In a field where the workers are underpayed, overworked, and underappreciated teachers need to hear more stories like this. Teaching is exciting and rewarding, but it can be incredibly draining, too. Reading about what Gruwell and her students were able to do and accomplish is an inspiration especially to educators, but also to everyone else.Read more ›
These books will mean different things to different folks but they should be read by everyone because they are, if nothing else, simple stories which reflect our humanity and culture. I worked with "throw away" kids for many years and see them on every page...but many people do not want to see them, do not want to empathize with them or the struggles of a teacher, do not want to know that racism and poverty still exist in this country...Anne Frank and Viktor Frankl told their stories and people still deny the Holocaust. This story is real, not drama, and it is representative of the struggle thousands upon thousands of teens face today in this country. Don't knock the ones who overcame and the successes teachers rarely achieve in these circumstances. Let them serve simply as the inspirations they are.
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I buy this book as gifts for people. I heard her speak - she is a genius!Published 3 months ago by Janet Gallin