Due: Thursday April 19 at 3:30 pm in OAKS
Length: at least 2-1/2 pages (double-spaced, formatted as usual, but no need for a works cited page)
Extra credit to be earned: up to 5% extra to your grade for formal writing (which includes Projects 1-4 and accounts for 70% of your course grade).
SPECIAL NOTE: I will grade these essays out of 5, with a 5 earned by exceptionally successful essays, a 1 earned by those essays that meet the basic requirements, and a 3 earned by those that meet and exceed the basic expectations.
You’ve already written in your informal responses to the films on the ways each film engages with the state of public education, how it represents “standard” or “typical” education and its aims, and how it presents this particular teacher and students as a part of that larger system. We talked in class about these issues and others, such as the way each film’s genre–Hollywood movie or realistic pseudo-documentary–might influence the way the story is told, with one leaving the audience feeling optimistic and hopeful, the other leaving it in some pain and serious doubt. We paid special attention to the relationships between the teachers and their students and among teachers, as well as a bit about the way each film responds to the particular racial and ethnic dynamics of the country in which the story takes place.
For your extra credit essay, select one of the following two prompts and write at least 2-1/2 pages in response. I will be especially keen to see (1) how you state your analytical claims, in the thesis and topic sentences, and (2) how you demonstrate these claims through evidence from the films.
Option A: Both of these films center on classrooms where language arts are studied: French language and literature in The Class and English literature and composition in Freedom Writers. Why do you think this subject was chosen for the setting of each film, rather than a science, math, or even social studies/history classroom? How does each film take advantage of the subject studied by the students in the class? In other words, what does this setting allow each film to do? In the end, do you see the films primarily as using this setting–the language arts classroom–similarly, or differently?
Option B: Consider the evidence presented through Freedom Writers to demonstrate that the students in Ms. Gruwell’s class have in fact acquired an education from being in her class. What is it that is different about the students by the end of the film, compared with how they appear to us at the beginning? What, in other words, have they learned? Consider, as well, what the students in Mr. Marin’s class appear to have learned over the year in his classroom. Recall the scene at the end where he asks them one thing they’ve learned, and one student describes a math concept and another, after the other students leave, tells him she didn’t learn anything. Would you say that Ms. Gruwell has taught her students something vitally important while Mr. Marin has taught his students nothing?