“The mind is a powerful tool” is a quote that is taught to scholars from all over the world. Teachers attempt to educate their students in the subject they have dedicated majority of their college experience studying, and expect them to absorb that knowledge to be further sophisticated. In John M. Smith’s 1995 film Dangerous Minds, Louanne Johnson is presented with a teaching position to an academy class at an inner-city high school. Eager to begin her teaching career and unaware of the variety of student enrolled in the class, Ms. Johnson accepts the full time position. This film presents many similar issues that the Los Angeles school district tackles to this day such as, teachers’ dedication to the success of their students and the lack of commitment from the students. Inner-city schools are not all blessed with highly motivated professors, who care about and believe in their scholars as Ms. Johnson does.
The neighborhoods that the students in the film live in are filled with gang violence and drug dealers, which diminishes any motivation of success that they might of have. In Dangerous Minds, Ms. Johnson is tested with the ability to educate a group of teenagers who come from broken homes, who are involved with gangs and drugs, pregnancies, and hopelessness of a future with a high school diploma. In order to fully comprehend and attain knowledge in classroom, the teacher, as well as the student, must be physically and mentally present in the class. A teachers’ dedication to his or her job significantly impacts the students in indefinite ways. Prior to
Ms. Johnson, the academy class went through four teachers, two of which had break-downs from their attempts of educating the class. After spending the first ten minutes being ignored, disrespected, harassed, name called, and laughed at, Ms. Johnson storms out the classroom in search of answers about the resignation of the previous teacher. At this point she realizes the meaning and purpose of an academy classroom and is faced with the decision between two choices. She has the option of quitting or attempt getting the students attention in order to properly educate them. Numerous amounts of teachers are presented with similar situations. A school that lacks of discipline and control of students is a very difficult one to teach.
Teachers must find ways to connect with students and grab their attention in ways contrasting from students in nicer neighborhoods with less crime rates. Throughout the film, Ms. Johnson continuously reminds her scholars that, they too, always have choices to make in their lives. As she reads a quote from Bob Dylan’s poem “Let Me Die in My Footsteps” and asks them for their interpretation of it, the students ignore her because of her involvement of stopping a fight between Raul and Emilio and is labeled as a “snitch.” For the first time, Ms. Johnson authoritatively takes full control of the class and informs them of the choices that they have and make every day, the option of coming to school to get an education instead of killing people and selling drugs on the streets like the majority of the people in their neighborhoods. This powerful and moving scene shows the amount of effort Ms. Johnson is placing into educating her students and believing that they have the ability to become intelligent students and graduate high school.
Unlike the previous professors, she feels the need to stay in the classroom because of her concern for the students and their future outcomes. Although there are quite a large number of educators similarly characterized to Mr. Johnson, many are not placed to teach at inner-city schools to aid students similar to ones in this film. Most teachers also prefer not to teach at such difficult schools because of the amount of commitment that needs to be dedicated along with the high levels of stress that comes with the job. Education is the most valued and powerful tool one can possess in the contemporary economy because being a part of a society that is rapidly growing is a challenge easily conquered with knowledge.
Any job position offering more than a salary of $20,000 a year requires their applicants to obtain a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree. Along with the professors efforts in assisting to keep a well-maintained and educational environment, comes the students’ dedication. Scholars must be motivated to learn new knowledge in order to attain a beneficial career and a positive future that they will be satisfied with. This film demonstrates different kinds of teenagers in a High School with similar backgrounds and eventually similar goals. In the inner-city neighborhoods, they are exposed to gang violence, drugs, drug dealing, crimes and pregnancy on a daily basis. Raul Sanchero, Emilio Ramirez, and Durell Benton are students in Ms. Johnson’s class who are living in such neighborhoods and are not aware of the consequences they are facing when they choose to continue in the footsteps if criminals with whom they loiter. Ms. Johnson attempts to change the thought pattern of the students and finds a way to relate English to them. She does so by rewarding them with field trips to theme parks, candy and dinner. After these games and rewards got students interested in poetry, Ms. Johnson Chirishyan 4
allowed knowledge to be its own reward. She used positive reinforcement in a manner that was never done before. She got the most uncontrollable class to not only behave but to learn a new subject as well. This film confirms that every student is able to be educated whether it is one mischievous child or a room full of them. It is in the power of unique cooperation from both students and teachers that allows a difficult task as such to be completed. Regardless of their backgrounds, every child has the ability complete goals they set for themselves.
Such goals may not be realistic at first but when a student is pushed to come to the realization that they are, in fact, intelligent, they will be motivated to further their education to their full extent. In conclusion, in the film Dangerous Minds, Ms. Johnson was presented with the situation that tests her ability to teach a group of special students who have lost all hope and motivation in themselves and their future. Her dedication and commitment to the students in her class gave her the courage to alter the young minds into directions away from their past mistakes. As the world is becoming more and more advanced in every aspect, it is the job of teachers and members in the board of education to direct schools into a place where hopes and dreams are worked on becoming reality.