Freedom Writers

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Director: Richard LaGravenese
Starring: Hilary Swank, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Glenn, Imelda Staunton
RunTime: 123 mins
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG

"It is just a job."

Like Erin Gruwell in Freedom Writers, I was probably told the same thing by different people, teachers as well. She has more of a challenge – dealing with an integrated class of delinquent blacks, Latino, Asian and a white student, clearly separated by their skin colour.

They are in school because they will be shot outside. But "war" happens right in the middle of the classroom following the Los Angeles riots. The students gave up hope in any future. And it was this teacher who made them see acceptance, tolerance, and dreams.

Before you dismiss this movie as another 'white-teacher inspires black-students' cliché, it is surprisingly inspirational. You will learn that a teacher is not only a job, as Erin straddles with multiple work and family, struggles with the stubborn and jaded colleagues, and strives with her despondent students.

While some movies are crafted to milk emotions, Freedom Writers feels and is very real. Based on a true story and actual journal records penned by students, the delivery was honest and sincere. In fact, some of the holocaust survivors in the movie were actual Holocaust survivors themselves.

Academy Award winner Hilary Swank's delivery was not powerful, was genuine. Truly, the 'star' of this movie is really Erin Gruwell herself. The phrase 'going the extra mile' made sense. Her story shows the strength of the individual and her dedication to the job. The job is without personal sacrifices, and it sets me thinking if I am willing to make those sacrifices or have already made them.

Suddenly, all problems seem so small and what teachers can do seem so big. Some may see this movie as preachy and unoriginal, but as a teacher, I can totally identify with it. It changed me.

Is it only just a job? I don't think so.

Freedom Writers – To my fellow teacher friends who are about to give hope, watch this movie.

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