REFLECTION ON “DANGEROUS MINDS”

     Hi Suzi! The other night I was watching "Dangerous Minds" on TV when my husband came out of the computer room to find me in tears (just exquisite emotion). Our school should show this movie to both teachers and students. It's so inspiring and very moving. Its message is a poignant reminder of the core mission of teachers and their impact on the lives of students.

    That teacher, Ms. Johnson, is indeed a "Wonder Woman". She combines expertise in her field with sensitivity to the needs of students. She is perceptive, analytical, hard-working, energetic and quick to grasp what is required in any situation. She just goes to students with a genuine heart, and they simply respond to her. Then through ordeals (she even has to brave parents' hostility), the bond that joins them gets stronger and stronger. Her professional responsibilities within and without the classroom are done accurately, timely, and completely. She is a people person. Her ability to work with students is a pleasure to observe. She is gentle, yet demanding, expecting the best from her students.

     Suzi, I see a reflection of Ms. Johnson in you (not that we are trying to bombard each other with compliments!). You said students were lucky to get me, but I think they were truly blessed to have you. You’re not only concerned about their learning, but also about their personal life. I have always wanted to build and maintain a similar teacher-student relationship, but my parents' poor health and my family situation didn't allow me to take the challenge.

     I tried to do my job most diligently, giving students time and energy, but I felt I didn’t have a chance to look deep inside their personal problems. I wish I could have. I got my hands full with my own! You know me … always trying to first live up to my responsibilities as a daughter and a mother. I’m very fortunate to have a very supportive and understanding husband; otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my teaching job.

     I gave my best attempt to comfort students who were having personal problems, but I’m afraid I wasn’t able to reach all of them, even though I could tell that most of them did see and value my effort. Maybe to some extent, I deserve your generous compliment (just kidding!).

     Say Hi to everyone for me. I know how eventful the first weeks of school are. I haven't seen Gina for a long, long time. I hope she's still surfacing!!!

     Good luck with the school year! Tell my former students I’m looking forward to their graduation. As usual I talk too much, therefore writing too long. Sorry, I can't help it.                        

    I do miss you all. Thanks, Suzi, for keeping in touch.

    Have a peaceful (if possible) and enjoyable week!

 

     Very much love from Ha. 

     (Gs. Nguyễn ngọc Hà )                                     

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Note:   Dangerous Minds (1995) is an American movie based on the autobiography My Posse Don’t Do Homework by former U.S Marine LouAnne Johnson, who took up a teaching position at Carlmont High School in Belmont, California, in 1989. Most of her students were African-American and Hispanic teenagers. Michelle Pfeiffer played the role of this teacher, and the film was released to mixed reception, but became a surprise box office in the summer of 1995.

The film was about a teacher in a classroom full of tough, lower-class and underprivileged students. Many involved in gang warfare and drugs. At first, LouAnne tried to teach the normal curriculum, but she couldn’t capture their attention. She changed her tactic, using language and metaphor that appeared to streetwise students. She gave them all A grade at the beginning of the year and challenged them to maintain it. She used the lyrics of Bob Dylan to teach them symbolism and metaphor. She paid attention to each student’s needs and talents so much that she even visited them at their home when needed. School authorities dídn’t like her techniques and tried to force her to remain with the curriculum.

At the end of the year, she announced her retiring from teaching at the school, but her students’s strong emotion about letting go of her had led her to reconsider her decision.

Phụ chú:   Dangerous Minds (1995) là một cuốn phim Mỹ dựa trên cuốn tự truyện “My Posse Don’t Do Homework” của tác giả LouAne Johnson (một cựu Thuỷ Quân Lục Chiến). Sau khi rời quân ngũ, cô xin việc làm giáo sư tại trường Trung Học Carlmont, ở Belmont, California năm 1989. Đa số học sinh của cô là người da đen hoặc gốc Nam Mỹ La Tinh (Hispanics). Nữ tài tử Michelle Pfeiffer đã đóng vai cô giáo này, và cuốn film đã đem lại những cảm nhận khác nhau từ khán giả nhưng cũng là cuốn phim ăn khách nhất trong mùa hè 1995.  

Cuốn phim nói về một cô giáo mới vào một lớp học gồm nhiều học sinh thành phần nghèo, ngỗ nghịch, và kém may mắn trong xã hội. Nhiều học sinh ở trong băng đảng, dùng ma tuý.  Lúc đầu cô dạy theo giáo trình nhưng thất bại vì các học sinh này không chú tâm vào. Cô bèn đổi chiến thuật, dùng những ngôn ngữ đường phố trong cách dạy để hoà đồng được với học sinh. Đầu năm học cô cho tất cả học sinh điểm A, và thách thức các học sinh làm sao duy trì được điểm này. Dần dần cô lồng vào trong các bài học những lời nhạc để học sinh hấp thụ dễ dàng. Cô cũng để ý nhu cầu và trình độ khả năng của từng học sinh và đích thân đến nhà thăm viếng khuyến khích khi cần thiết. Ban điều hành trường không đồng ý với cách dạy của cô và ép cô phải đi theo giáo trình. 

Cuối năm, cô công bố nghỉ dạy, nhưng tất cả học sinh của cô đã bày tỏ những tình cảm đậm đà và không cho cô nghỉ dạy. Cuối cùng cô đã đổi ý và ở lại.  

 (Trở lại)

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