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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Posse Don’t Do Homework

LouAnne Johnson Yet another gem of a story published in one of the editions of the Reader’s Digest magazine, a stack of which I found in one of my cupboards a few days back.

My Posse Don’t Do Homework is an inspiring true story of a High School teacher, LouAnne Johnson, who after retiring from the US Marine Corps takes up the job at a teacher’s position in a High School located in one of the rough neighborhoods in America.

Unfazed by the initial intimidation posturing of the students, she goes on to to break down their hostility and also slowly get them to appreciate the value and importance of education.

Reading about these adolescent students with potential, but misguided by their surrounding and lack of appreciation slowly taking to studying, working hard to achieve those very things that society had assumed they would never be able to acquire was fascinating indeed.

LouAnne’s teaching methodology, her connecting with the students and their family, the manner in which the students looked up to her with respect and humility – a first for them, growing up in a surrounding where showing any signs of weakness could often mean death, all makes for a great reading experience. Her crowning moment is the day when the students of her class receive their High School diplomas, performing exceedingly well and then going on to pursue greater feats.

The article was a condensed version of the book written by her of the same name. I was unable to find an online edition of the article.

If you too are unable to get either the condensed edition or the actual book, then you may also watch the movie that had been made based on this book – Dangerous Minds. Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, it was a well made movie, though watching the movie after having read the original may not be that good an experience. The makers of the movie have also taken a great deal of creative liberties with the movie, which though did not harm the story of the movie, made it a little different from the original book.

If you are unable to lay your hands on the movie, then watching the movie comes a close second.

HBO had screened a similar movie based on another true some years back where students coming from economically weak families, went on to excel in their High School studies because of their Maths teacher who got them to take a liking for Calculus and ace it. A little Googling revealed that the name of the movie was Stand and Deliver. Incidentally one of the results I came across was another blog post that had written about both these books and movies in the same post, just as I am doing – pleasant coincidence :)