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sábado, 13 de julho de 2013

Freedom writers and National Curriculum Parameters


In the movie “Freedom writers” there’s the protagonist as well as the teacher, Erin Gruwell, who will start her teaching career with a class of school troubled teens. They were problematic because they had been already in prison and they were in school solely for the reason that they did not want to get back to the reformatory. The group was made by youths of different origins (Easterners, Latinos, Mestizos, Blacks and a white), they were all suffering from intolerance and resisting to interact; they preferred to isolate themselves in ghettos inside the room.  The new teacher was seen by most as a representative of the white dominion of the United States which they feared and resented. Students saw her as the responsible for making them subjected to the white’s values domination perpetrating in the school.

Her initiatives to break down those interaction barriers in the class were failing one by one. Even though she had no support from the school administrators and from other teachers, she believed she could overcome the social and ethnic differences that surrounded them.  Thus, she created a project of reading and writing, she started with the book “The diary of Anne Frank” in which learners could register in personalized notebooks whatever they wanted to say about their lives, feelings, emotions, ideas and impressions about the world, relationships, etc. 

By creating this link of touch with the world, Gruwell furnished to her pupils a real element of communication which allowed to set them free from their fears, prejudices, traumas, afflictions, anxieties and insecurities. Then the teacher became a facilitator for the learning, since she was no longer just the transmitter of knowledge but rather she helped students to learn how to live as individuals in the process of constant transformation. From Anne Frank example, which was a German Jewish girl, white like their teacher, and who was persecuted by the Nazi till she lost her life during the World Second War, Gruwell showed to them that prejudices and exclusion situation can happen to anyone independently from skin color, ethnic origin, religion or social class. Thus, the teacher Gruwell created an empathy with the students, for she was authentic and showed she was interested in helping them.

According to National Curriculum Parameters the education should be taken to all social contexts and should be accessed to everyone no matter the social problems and limits. Education is a duty to every citizens and it has to break all the frontiers achieving the maximum parts of the world as possible. Its focus should be in how to make students learn to learn and in how to make them develop autonomy and transform the knowledge. It is more concerned with students needs and reality, so it is necessary to stimulate students capacity of reflecting about their identity among society and to make them find and construct meaning through their lives inserted in a social structure.

National Curriculum Parameters thinks education as a tool of social transformation for students and to prepare them not just for academic and professional aspects but also prepare them for their lives and enable them to be fulfilled as human beings. Then, it is characterized by this holistic point of view about humanity and it works with this revolutionary thought about changing the way people think of education. They understand and tries to cover all human needs to become better and aware of their position in the world. It worries about creating autonomous people who is able to think, reflect, feel, act and transform for better their surroundings.  


National Curriculum Parameters is concerned with the need to involve students in the social life, as it creates circumstances in which students are prepared to learn how to find their places in the communities. And as the language is the first instrument in which they start interacting with the world, it is also the first device that should be properly developed and improved through the education. Thus, the language is used for them to construct meaning through social interactions which is going to define them as people. “Communication is taken herein as the process of constructing meaning in which the acting subject interacts socially and uses language as a tool that defines him/her as a person among persons. Language taken to mean the human ability to construct and “deconstruct” social meanings.”  


The teacher, Erin Gruwell from the movie “Freedom writers” showed very elegantly many of those National Curriculum Parameters concerns, for she was skillfully able to apply those intricate needs in a very problematic situation. Even though it seemed so difficult to handle at the beginning, the teacher did not give up and she found a way to break down those barriers that prevented her interaction with the students. As mentioned before, with lots of efforts she finally convinced the students she was there to help them. So she could be designated as the ideal teacher in the National Curriculum Parameters’ vision, for through her attempts she could engage students and call their attention by working on their realities and making them see they were capable to become better as humans no matter how hard and misery their lives were. She was a very sensitive educator who could sense the students’ needs and she was able to struggle to find solutions to change that precarious situation.


As National Curriculum Parameters claims, she used the language as a tool to achieve students’ reality and then she managed to raise awareness about life itself and to open students’ eyes about how difficult and threatening life is in general. Besides overcoming their social, emotional and communications barriers, she was able to transform student’s perspective about the world. She could finally get closer to them through their personal problems using written communication where they felt comfortable to tell all about their problems, which made the teacher more conscious about who she was dealing with. And then, she could contextualize and make them feel part of the world. She showed that not only them but everyone is passible of being victim of prejudice in this world; so using the language she could construct and deconstruct meanings about how reality presents itself. With all her patient work, she could bring meaning to their lives and transform it for better making them feel part of humanity which is what NCP disseminate for education to be.