“But to get respect you have to give it”- The freedom writers

A line above is the most memorable quote from the movie called The freedom writers. Has anyone heard of it before? If not, then I’d highly recommend reading a book or watching a movie. It is based on actual events that happened in the lives of The Freedom Writers of Woodrow Wilson High School in the USA.  I’ve watched the film only and I’d like to share my own thoughts on it.

A new teacher arrived at a school notorious for its bad reputation. Erin Gruwell, a young English teacher, decided to work at this school albeit she had all the specs and qualifications to work at a much more prestigious institution. Why? Could it be that she wanted to help the students get better and save them from the downfall? Or it was the way of testing herself and her skills? Nevertheless, she managed to achieve both. Surely, it was frustrating for a young teacher who never had an experience of working with students not only unwilling to study but aggressive and somehow dangerous. Simple teaching approach of delivering material and assigning homework did not work on them. They kept ignoring her, missing classes and getting in troubles. The turning point happened when she finally gave up on traditional ways of teaching and found a way to get through to them.  She started telling a story they never heard of. The story which was so sad, a story they could relate to. Erin realised that her students have so much to tell but nobody to listen, and right at that moment, an idea came to her mind. Writing. She suggested a way which could help them, but it was students who grabbed the chance and changed own lives. They walked all the way through high school together, grew to love literature and writing and most importantly they learnt of a way to make themselves better.

This sentimental post is dedicated to all the teachers who want to grow as individuals and professionals.  I do not know what makes a perfect teacher but a person able to change the lives of people for the best is one to deserve respect. If you had to be in her shoes, what would you do? Do you think you would have enough courage not to give up?


The Freedom Writers (1999).The freedom writers diary: How a teacher and 150 teens used writing to change themselves and the world around them. New York: Broadway Books.

DeVito, D., Shamberg, M. & Sher, S. (Producers) & LaGravenese, R. (Director). (2007). Freedom writers. [Motion picture].The United States:  MTV Films.



2 thoughts on ““But to get respect you have to give it”- The freedom writers

  1. Nice post, Farihandro. (4.5/5) This is a nice strategy to link pop culture views of education to your own ideas and views of what teaching and education should entail. You employ an easy, open, conversational tone, which makes your description easy to follow and enjoyable to think about. There are just a couple things would recommend for posts like these: 1) Engage a bit more critically with the post. Ask some hard questions about stereotypes, power dynamics, or culture that are presented in this film. Your description is great, but I think you can go a bit further. 2) Add an image or a link to the film, and maybe engage with a review that was written about it. How does your interpretation compare to that of others?


  2. Fariza! I like this movie too! The story is so touching and empowering! When I was watching it I thought if I could ever be such a dedicated and patient teacher ever? Because understanding the things those young people had gone through is not enough. there was much more sweat and patience before the teacher was able to reach there minds, to change the cultural stereotypes and to inpire the young people for further studies. And all was at the expense of her personal life!
    I think it is more than just being a good teacher You need to love people! I don’t think I could ever be such a teacher, as I don’t think I have such a courage not to give up. But this is what stories like that are for and this is why they are unique, they are an example for us not to be ignorant and be best we can.

    Liked by 1 person

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