Teaching and transforming

Freedom Writers, starring Hillary Swank, tells the story of how Long Beach teacher Erin Gruwell motivated her “unteachable” students to become writers. Gruwell, who now teaches teachers, collected the students’ writing in The Freedom Writers’ Diary. This review calls the movie “cliched, corny and predictable” — and “irresistibly effective.”

English teacher Dana Huff, who’s planning to see the movie, didn’t transform her students at a poor, rural high school, though at least she taught them Shakespeare, unlike the other English teacher. Critics complain Freedom Writers is “yet another movie featuring a white savior who transforms the lives of … underprivileged nonwhites,” she writes. But Gruwell is white and most of her students were nonwhites bused from bad neighborhoods to a middle-class high school. (That set-up — middle-class school dumps the bused-in kids in a no-expectations class taught by a neophyte teacher — is a close match to Dangerous Minds.)

You may wonder what happened with the movie nibbles on my book, Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the Charter School that Beat the Odds. Nothing. You’ll just have to buy the book from Amazon or from me (e-mail me at joanne at joannejacobs dot com for an autographed copy).

About Joanne


  1. Barry Garelick says:

    I was hoping they’d get Julia Roberts to play you in movie version.

  2. we can envision the hollywood rewrite for you: chase scene, cameo appearances, special FX … might be a tenmpting writing assignment 🙂

  3. Ms. Jacobs,
    I just wanted you to know that I loved your book. I enjoy your blog as well.