Author's Thoughts for the Movie Dangerous Minds

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My Thoughts on the movie Dangerous Minds which was (very very loosely) adapted from my book My Posse Don’t Do Homework. This was written in June 2007 in response to an email from a grad student: Thank you for contacting me for input instead of just using what you find on the Internet or other resources. Let me be clear: I think Dangerous Minds has its good points – it inspired a lot of kids to stay in school, it inspired many people to pursue their dreams of becoming teachers, and it inspired the brilliant song, “Gangsta’s Paradise.” I just wish that people would realize it’s a movie and not real life when they write about me. I had very little input to the movie and much of it is fiction, at times so far removed from fact as to be ridiculous. My students never called me "white bread" for example - I had only one rule in my classroom and that was: respect yourself and the others in this room. I didn't disrespect my students and they didn't disrespect me. The producers couldn't believe it could be so simple -- that if you treat kids with genuine respect, they may not love you immediately, but they will learn to respect you. I used rap lyrics to initiate lessons about poetry (not a DylanDylan contest). Instead of a silly contest, we learned to write and analyze various forms of poetry, beginning with songs and ending with Shakespearean sonnets. Yep, they actually liked them, too. I never threw candy bars at my students to motivate them -- I encouraged them to eat healthy foods. I didn't fight with my administrators all the time -- it was my principal who gave me the support and encouragement I needed to become an effective teacher. So, I would simply ask that you view the movie as a movie and not as a reflection of my personality, teaching techniques, teaching philosophy, and definitely not as a reflection of my attitude toward students. I didn't teach for one semester and then try to quit -- I taught in the at- risk program for five years, starting as a part-time...
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