I found that it was very hard for me to provide an answer to the prompt without comparing and contrasting the two movies – I had to rewrite most of this post. I suppose I will have things to bring up in discussion on Tuesday!
I think the reason that Ms. Gruwell was so successful in getting through to her students was her determination. I thought I had seen the movie before in high school, but I discovered I had really only been shown about half of the movie. For me, it was almost unbelievable to see how strongly she felt about making sure these students succeeded. She sacrificed her free time, working extra jobs in order to provide extra activities for her students. Eventually even her marriage was sacrificed, though that was not a direct result from her job. It was inspiring to see someone who cared so much about her job.
The students in room 203 seemed to really respond to writing in a diary. I think that was a great idea on Ms. Gruwell’s part. People underestimate the therapeutic aspects of writing all of your thoughts down, getting them somewhere else besides your head. These kids seemed to have never really thought about that idea before.
Ms. Gruwell provides experiences for the students that they probably would never have had if it weren’t for her – access to museums, having a really nice dinner.
I think that she put the idea of change into their heads, which is what I will conclude with, what we were meant to take away from the film. She made them realize that they had the power to change their lives, to break away from what they were used to and really inspire them to lead productive lives. I think it was successful in putting hope into the audience. That no matter how bad things may be, you have the power to change that. The first in your family to graduate from high school, much less continue onto college. Barriers that had never been broken before were broken in this movie – challenging the school board, kids breaking out of gangs and even betraying “their own” because they knew it was the right thing to do.