Summary, Reaction, and Analysis Paper #1: The Freedom Writers Diary The Freedom Writers Diary is based on a true story that takes place at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. Wilson High School was always known for being an upper class white school but that soon changed. Students began to be bussed in which created a more diverse school. Erin Gruwell experienced this first hand when she was offered her first teaching job at Wilson in 1994. Ms. Gruwell was not given just any teaching job, she had been asked to work with the at-risk students. Every other teacher and the administrative board looked down on these students. Ms. Gruwell knew she had to be the one to view them differently and give them a chance from the beginning. This proves to be difficult within the first weeks of school. The students quickly show Ms. Gruwell they are not interested in school or what she had to say. About a month into school was when the students really started to change as individuals. This happened after Ms. Gruwell caught a note going around the room that had a drawing of one of the students named Sharaud. The picture had an African American male with huge lips. Ms. Gruwell used this negative situation as a learning opportunity. She compared the drawing to Jews during the Holocaust. She gained the students’ attention immediately and knew this would be her new way of teaching. Her new goal was to create learning through books, guest speakers, and field trips. Ms. Gruwell knew she had made progress, but there was a long journey ahead still. After struggling with the school about getting new books she decided to go find her own. Ms. Gruwell introduced several books that students would be able to relate to. Some of the books were: Twelve Angry Men , Night by Elie Wiesel, The Wave by Todd Strasser, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl , and Zlata’s Diary . Many of the students did not believe they would be able to relate to the books, but then quickly learned other wise. Mrs. Gruwell had each student
It's 1994 in Long Beach, California. Idealistic Erin Gruwell is just starting her first teaching job, that as freshman and sophomore English teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School, which, two years earlier, implemented a voluntary integration program. For many of the existing teachers, the integration has ruined the school, whose previously stellar academic standing has been replaced with many students who will be lucky to graduate or even be literate. Despite choosing the school on purpose because of its integration program, Erin is unprepared for the nature of her classroom, whose students live by generations of strict moral codes of protecting their own at all cost. Many are in gangs and almost all know somebody that has been killed by gang violence. The Latinos hate the Cambodians who hate the blacks and so on. The only person the students hate more is Ms. Gruwell. It isn't until Erin holds an unsanctioned discussion about a recent drive-by shooting death that she fully begins to understand what she's up against. And it isn't until she provides an assignment of writing a daily journal - which will be not graded, and will remain unread by her unless they so choose - that the students begin to open up to her. As Erin tries harder and harder to have resources provided to teach properly (which often results in her needing to pay for them herself through working second and third jobs), she seems to face greater resistance, especially from her colleagues, such as Margaret Campbell, her section head, who lives by regulations and sees such resources as a waste, and Brian Gelford, who will protect his "priviledged" position of teaching the senior honors classes at all cost. Erin also finds that her teaching job is placing a strain on her marriage to Scott Casey, a man who seems to have lost his own idealistic way in life.