In the analysis of the movie Freedom Writers the implications of social issues, learning and gender sensitivity guided me to opting a psychological perspective in understanding the film. The themes in the film reflect real life scenarios in society which are simply mirrored in works of art literature. The main interests in the exploration of the main themes if the film is solely to appreciate how learning and interaction with different cultural environments informs social behaviour. This is critical since the society has ideals and stereotypes that compromise collective learning especially self-awareness and understanding of other cultures (McLeod, 2011).
The movie Freedom Writers has a balanced concept from a true story. Hilary Swank as Erin Gruwell plays the role of an inspirational teacher at Wilson High School. Her class is made up of different races and groups--African Americans, Latin, Asians, gang members, and students from poor families. On the first day of teaching, she is very uncertain and intimidated, but feels the need to stop the racism in the class as well as their attitude of her students towards life in general. Despite the great struggle to communicate with her students and lack of interest to participate during class, Erin finds interesting means to communicate her message to the students. A racially motivated group of criminals shooting-witnessed by a Latina gang member in Erins class, and an unfriendly racial cartoon that Erin identifies during class, shape her awareness and her relationship with the teaching environment. These events spark a transformation in the classroom, and new engagements happen as the relation to the issues relevant to the lives on the streets come to light. Erin begins to connect with them. When brings in music which those kids relate to and literature like The Diary of Anne Frank, and among other tools she invites her children to the experience the context of suffering throughout the world and the struggles of those outside their own communities (McLeod, 2011).
Gruwell eventually comes bottom down-close- the students write down their experiences and feelings. This strategy really makes the students connect with each other and provide an outlet for them as well. The rest of the movie depicts Gruwell teaching the students through the rest of years in high school and encouraging other people to interact with her students. Gruwell then takes all the entries and compiles them and names it "The Freedom Writers Diary". The conclusion of the movie ends with a reassuring note saying that Gruwell was successful in bringing students to graduation and lead them to higher institutions of learning (McLeod, 2011).
In social learning theory the outcomes of this film are evident. According to Bandura the key tenet of social learning is that behaviour is learned by observation. Thus, Gruwell, undergoes experiences that challenge her awareness of the issues of concern to her students and learns the gap between them and school. Through this realization, she actually learns self-awareness by identifying with her students. In fact, she has a positive and presumptive attitude when embarks on teaching which eventually translates to frustration at first before learning the environment and the racial factor that the students have to grapple with. In real life scenarios, people experience cultural shock as well as estrangement from their peers to cultural issues such as racism and poverty which cannot relate to due to difference in cultural backgrounds. However, through social learning, individuals eventually manage to raise their awareness and accommodate other peoples views and concerns. I thought that in the movie the mentor's approach (Hillary Swank) with the students was successful and also unsuccessful. In the movie Gruwell has a lot of struggles with actually connecting with her students. She came into the classroom expecting that all of her students would be willing and eager to learn, but she learned quickly that wasn't the case. She had to learn that she shouldnt assume anything until she gets to know the situation. So that is an example of an unsuccessful approach. But Gruwell provided a successful approach when she realized that she could reach her students by connecting with what really mattered to them and showing a genuine interest in them (Clutterbuck, 2004).
She has to decide if she wants to do what is right and tell the truth or not tell the truth and make her gang and family members happy. As a mentor it's important to realize that sometimes there may be multiple things happening in the mentees life that may be affecting the way they are acting and the decisions they are making. In the movie the teacher, Gruwell is rather less self-aware and less mindful of her environment (Nutting, 1994-2009), but progressively improves over time throughout the movie and relates to her environment much closely. In fact, at the beginning Gruwell does not have a clear direction pertaining to her own biases and the reality of her surroundings. She had a general idea of her role, but during the various scenes of the movie she was really challenged by her students and also her peers as well, which consecutively led to increase in her self- awareness. She manages to relate to her students the racism issues and responds constructively and effectively. The same case applies to the students in the film. The students were not really aware of the implications of racism and the distress it caused the school commas a whole; however, they learn and appreciate the experience to improve on their relations and promote co-existence through practical activities such writing journals what they truly felt in realizing a better self-awareness (Eagan, 2009).
In conclusion, movies are interesting and educative. This particular movie brings out feminine behaviours as well as male chauvinism and how gender issues are different today. This has changed now as we face equality between men and women. However, in modern day filming gender issues no longer weigh in favour of one gender. The modern movies depict woman behaviours as well as man behaviors. Their teachings still apply to current times, in the choice of characters playing different role. Thus, these movies have stood throughout time, and some of them still apply to the current generation.
These movies show the evolution of sex and sexuality in Hollywood. It is evident that there is the emergence of varied approach to films in which women too assume critical roles herein, such as in the case of Freedom Writers whose main theme edified the society on social and cultural difference. There is a masculinity crisis, especially at the beginning of 1970s onwards. This is because there is women revolution all over the world. Every woman wants equality. Many countries have enacted laws to provide equal opportunities between men and women. Many states have also enacted laws to protect girl child. Many states consider rape a serious offense to either gender. This aimed at protecting females from rape. Nowadays rape cases have reduced tremendously since the enactment of laws to combat rape. Nowadays women can file for divorce if they are not interested with their marriage. This gives woman freedom to choose what is good for her, which is contrary to the earlier period where her husband chose everything for her. While women are enjoying this revolution, men are frowning at it. This is because men no longer have authority over their wives. There is also an equal representation of women and men in government. Many states apply affirmative action to ensure women representation in government (Eagan, 2009).
Clutterbuck, D. (2004, June). Mentors and Mentees- The Competency Conundrum. Retrieved from LeaderValues: www.leadervalues.com/Content/detail.asp?ContentDetaillD=203
Nutting, J. (1994-2009). Four Levels of Self-awareness and Self-empowerment. Retrieved from Voice Dialogue- Inner Self Awareness: www.voice-dialogue-inner-self-awareness.come
Eagan D (2009). America's Film Legacy: The Authoritative Guide to the Landmark Movies in the National Film Registry. London. Continuum International Publishing Group
McLeod S. (2011). Bandura-Social Learning Theory. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/bandura.html
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