There are a lot of films dedicated to teaching and dealing with educational problems at school. Earlier I have seen Emperors’ Club, and Freedom Writers – yesterday. Of course, the topic is actual and there are a lot of questions to be discussed. Though Freedom Writers has many real facts, it is not a whole true story, but it is a kind of story that may happen to everyone. What I understood from the film is that you should give something of you, if you want to receive something valuable. That is the most interesting thing in our life. How you try, so you are awarded. As Freedom Writers relates to teaching, difficulties in teaching and diversities in student characters, it has many things in common with Emperors’ Club. Both teachers had a great influence on their students, both of them were treated with a strange attitude from the members of the school staff. Mr. Hundert conducted his lessons in a queer way, for instance, letting students to rip the pages of the book. Mrs. Gruwell did a kind of job for her students, that the school staff considered to be undeserved. Both teachers dealt with the problem of individualism, and they tried to be fair for all of their students.

In comparison with schools in Kazakhstan, our students treat their teachers more seriously. They respect the teachers, even though if they hate a definite teacher, they won’t behave in a way Erin’s students did. Of course, I do not deny unpleasant cases occurring at our schools too. We, Kazakh people, are taught to keep and follow strong discipline from childhood.

The film takes its roots from history, from Anne Frank’s Diary. Anne Frank described Holocaust period led by Germany from 1942 till 1944. Anne’s diary today is a valuable document. Simply by putting all the events of that period in her diary, Anne showed moral courage. I think that the film-makers were inspired with the fact and tried to show “inner Anne Frank” in almost all the characters of  Freedom Writers. Many of them do right thing at risk to themselves: Eva, telling the truth in the court; Miep, giving a shelter to Anne Frank; Marcus, returning home; Erin’s father, changing his mind about his daughter’s dedication to the children; Chief of the Board of Education; and all other students, who made a right change in their lives, and , of course, Erin Gruwell, who inspired them for that change. All of them were heroes as Miep said. Some people think it is necessary to be born a hero in order to become a hero. However, each person has heroism deep in heart. Heroes are people, who accomplish the task, other people are capable, but afraid of doing.

At the beginning of the film, Erin’s students looked at each other with hatred, but later they managed to break the ice between them. They belonged to different racial groups and that was the main reason for hatred. Mostly, diversity causes all kinds of misunderstandings. For example, there are many ethnic and religious groups in Kazakhstan. They are skinheads, punks, bikers, hip-hop culture, goth, glam rocks, on the one hand, that can be called types of subcultures, and Christian, Islam and other religious groups, on the other. I remember, once we had a discussion on the theme of subcultures in ACK, National Library. There were many students from schools, and they know much about types of subcultures among youth. At that time I heard many types of it I have never heard about before. Also we discussed good and bad types of subcultures. Having watched the film, I recognized how it was difficult to deal with students, belonging to different groups. However, if you have a passion about what you are doing, you will cope with any problems at ease. That’s what Erin did. She was inspired to teach these at-risk children, and she taught them to be better. As a young teacher, the film had so many useful things to learn for myself.

We watched Freedom writers today. Earlier I heard a lot about the film, but I didn’t try to watch it for myself. Say, I was little motivated to watch it. It was a pleasure to watch it in the classroom. I cried, though I hate people to see me with tears in my eyes. The film is touching. Since we are teachers, and since we are enrolled into PDP classes, the films, we watch, relate to school, teaching and student-teacher relationships. Freedom writers is about a motivation for change. A young and unexperienced teacher (Erin) comes to school to make a difference in the lives of the students. The students, who are exposed to danger and harm. The students, who are forced to fight each day for survival. Under the risk of being killed, they seem to graduate each day of their life. First, looking at these children, you think “Can they really change for better?” and ask yourself ” Could I make that change in their lives?” Erin is a teacher, I am also a teacher. The question is really difficult to answer at once. Especially, for us, who strongly follows the rules. My fellow-student got angry by watching those students attitude to the teacher. Each time they conducted themselves in a rude way, she exclaimed with reproach to their behaviour. She is sensitive and rather experienced in teaching and working with children. While watching the film, she, sometimes, saw the reflection of our Kazakhstani schools. She even resembled one character, an old teacher, with someone from school, where she works right now. I was sitting near her and noticed the notes she made for herself. She commented on the effectiveness of the methods Erin used. And she was open to try it in her classroom.

Erin made an effort to meet the challenge. And she succeeded. Though the success took much from her own life away. She lost her husband, love and support. She devoted herself to motivation for change.

However, it is clear that the film-makers wanted to present a teacher real in nature. Through the fictional character of Erin they tried to motivate teachers to meet every challenges they face. Personally, Erin had a lot of difficulties with those children, and she coped with all of them. That is a matter of fiction influence. It is rather doubtful in real life. Firstly, How can a young teacher with no teaching background deal such kind of serious problems? Secondly, How can a newcomer understand what is going on at school in a few days? And finally, How can she solve problems with no instructions and support, alone? According to the film, the answers are too easy to consider them veracious.

Do we have such teachers in our century?!

No! That’s why the film is not based on A SINGLE REAL STORY. It is a combination of various real stories in ONE FILM.

Yes! We have such teachers in our century. And the improvement and integration in education is a result of a huge work done by teachers.

Totally, I appreciate the film. I think it helped many teachers to conclude “My teaching problems are nothing compared with the difficulties Erin faced in her school experience.”