In the movie The Freedom Writers, what three obstacles does Erin Gruwell face in the beginning?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Freedom Writers is one of my favorite "teacher" movies, and I encourage everyone to watch it. As Erin Gruwell begins to teach, she has at least three obstacles.

First, she has her own inexperience and naïveté. Nothing could have possibly prepared her properly for this particular teaching assignment. Erin has been assigned a class of students that the system has completely given up on. Even the most seasoned teacher would have a hard time with this, but Erin Gruwell has no experience at all.

Second, the students are an obstacle, for any number of reasons, but mostly because, since everyone has given up on them, they have given up on themselves. Due to their past experiences with the education system, they are extremely mistrustful of Gruwell. She must prove herself over and over again before they trust her.

Third, the staff at her school are an obstacle. Viewing them in the most favorable light, they are cynical and negligent educators. As I watched this movie, I was not inclined to view them kindly, and thought they really seemed to be downright racists. These educators thought any resources spent on Gruwell's students were a complete waste.  Imagine being a student in that school! Gruwell has other obstacles, of course, but her courage, willpower, optimism, and resilience are remarkable and allow for a mostly happy ending. 

Read the study guide:
The Freedom Writers Diary

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