Literary Criticism and Significance
When Erin Gruwell was assigned a class full of students who were labeled "at risk," she had no idea the challenges she would face. Many would have balked at what seemed like an insurmountable, Sisyphean task. On their website, the Freedom Writers explain that "on our first day of school, we had only three things in common: we hated school, we hated our teacher, and we hated each other."
A novice teacher with big ideas and an even bigger heart, Gruwell refused to allow her students' lives to become self-fulfilling prophecies. By holding them to high standards and presenting them with countless opportunities, Gruwell gave these students a chance to overcome the limitations imposed on them by society. Gruwell encouraged her students to "do something different, something memorable, something powerful and humane."
In response to the overwhelming popularity and success of The Freedom Writers Diary, Erin Gruwell established the Freedom Writers Foundation which "promotes acceptance and innovative teaching methods in classrooms around the country." Proceeds from the sale ofThe Freedom Writers Diary go to the Tolerance Education Foundation, which was established to pay for the Freedom Writers' college tuition.
Today, teachers and students around the globe can bring the original Freedom Writers into their classrooms via an online video chat. Erin Gruwell now serves as the president of the Freedom Writers Foundation. Her work has been featured on The View, Good Morning America, Book TV, and Oprah. Currently, there are 32 Freedom Writer Teachers implementing the Freedom Writer Method across the country.The core of this approach is not only recognizing but celebrating diversity in the classroom.
Erin Gruwell has also authored The Freedom Writers Diary Teacher's Guide, Teach With Your Heart: Lessons I Learned From the Freedom Writers, and Teaching Hope: Stories From the Freedom Writer Teachers and Erin Gruwell.
The Freedom Writers Diary was made into a major motion picture in 2007 starring Academy Award winner Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey.