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- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
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Dangerous Minds is a movie about education at a mostly white and upper middle-class California public school where poor urban teenagers of color are bused in for a “supposedly” equal chance. These undisciplined but energetic and passionate students have been “ghettoized” into the Academy program where no sane teacher would tread except for ex-Marine LouAnne Johnson, played by Michelle Pfeiffer. Leaving a nine-year military career LouAnne Johnson is eager for employment as an English teacher but she doesn’t realize what she has gotten herself into. She bribes and cajoles her students into learning, bucks the system, ignores petty bureaucrats, employs offbeat methods and sacrifices personally to get the most out of her students. This movie shows an accurate description of this country’s flunking educational system and students who know to trust no one and count on nothing.
Dangerous Minds portrays a true depiction of this country’s flunking educational system. The movie is mostly about life when you have nowhere to turn. In the movie, the students are expected to fail and if it were not for the determination of LouAnne Johnson these students probably would have failed. At the beginning of the movie it shows how two teachers have already quit their job at this school and had given up on these students. Many educational stereotypes are out in today’s world, which makes people believe that these students do not want to learn or just do not care about their futures. While this may be true in some instances many students are desperate to connect with someone who cares about them. Life has taught them to trust no one and count on nothing so many teachers see this as a wall on the road to teaching them. The students of urban public schools, of who many are bused in on a daily basis for the supposed equal opportunity, are more worried about staying alive than reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. In the movie the instructors and faculty do not even think that the students will even comprehend what they are talking about, believing that the students are only bused in because of their color. Not because they are smart and need an education to succeed and move forward in their lives.
Although each of LouAnne Johnson’s students exhibit a seemingly impenetrable façade, who are written off as dumb and impossible to teach, they are whipped into academic shape by a strong-willed, resourceful teacher. The movie, Dangerous Minds, was based on the actual experiences of the author (and the movie’s technical advisor) of “My Posse Don’t Do Homework”, LouAnne Johnson. This goes to show that while many of our students may not be learning it may be because the teacher needs to do some learning on how to go about teaching the students. Many teachers also believe that if they stand in front of the classroom and teach and the students do not listen that they are unwilling to learn but sometimes it takes the skills of a qualified teacher to turn these unwilling students on to learning.
In conclusion, this movie shows one teacher’s account and true life depiction of the educational crisis in America today. It portrayed and presented this very vividly, which made it seem all the more realistic. LouAnne Johnson’s real life effort to tame the, at first uncooperative and often disadvantaged students in the “special” class, and to turn their lives around is commendable. Her story exposes the country’s flunking educational system and reminds us of the intellectual potential, the dangerous minds, it squanders. If it were not for dedicated teachers such as LouAnne Johnson most of these students would not be where they are at today.
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Education, Educational psychology, Dangerous Minds, Films, LouAnne Johnson, Teacher, Educational technology
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