Dangerous Minds

*This'll be for both this book and the next one (The Girls In The Back of the Classroom)

I decided to check out the books My Posse Don’t Do Homework and The Girls in the Back of the Classroom by Louanne Johnson after having seen the movie Dangerous Minds. Those are the books it’s loosely based off of.

These books are very raw. They’re nonfiction (where as the movie is fiction), written by Louanne Johnson herself, a school teacher in California. She's pretty admirable, because I know I could never

*This'll be for both this book and the next one (The Girls In The Back of the Classroom)

I decided to check out the books My Posse Don’t Do Homework and The Girls in the Back of the Classroom by Louanne Johnson after having seen the movie Dangerous Minds. Those are the books it’s loosely based off of.

These books are very raw. They’re nonfiction (where as the movie is fiction), written by Louanne Johnson herself, a school teacher in California. She's pretty admirable, because I know I could never handle teaching a bunch of kids (I don’t like them very much). But she really helped out a lot of people. I like both equally, the movie and the book. As far as comparing and contrasting goes, the books are more personal, and definitely more authentic. They are more complex too. The movie follows the archetype of teacher comes in, inspires troubled students, ‘saves’ them, etc. Which I love, don’t get me wrong. I’m a sucker for those kind of films. I love Stand and Deliver, Lean on Me, etc. But in the book, it goes into more detail about Ms. Johnson’s life herself, especially in the second one. You get a painful taste of what it’s like to be a teacher who cares as much as her.

Not all of it is happy endings. That’s obvious in the movie, but in the book, there are two situations. One with a boy named Attiba and another with a boy named Junior Advani. With Attiba, he just didn’t want help. And no matter how much you may want to help somebody, they have to be willing to help themselves. It takes two. You can’t do it if they continue to push you away. With Advani…at FIRST, I felt sympathy for him. Because I thought people were only judging him solely based on the way he looked. For having half his head shaved, for wearing Metallica shirts…you get the picture. I thought people were only judging him as being ‘Satanic’ because people like to stereotype based on the shallowest of reasons. However…as I started reading further into his story, I realized how crazy he really is. He held a knife to his mother’s throat. And all his father did was kick him out of the house for the night. When Ms. Johnson told his father he should see a counselor, he turned the suggestion down. And I was just like… ‘Your son held a knife to your wife’s throat…and you’re acting like it’s just no big deal? Wtf?!’ There were also several reports from kids saying he would chant Satanic things to them. There was even a girl who brought a knife to school—BROUGHT A KNIFE TO SCHOOL—risking expulsion just to protect herself, because she felt threatened by him. Basically this story ended with Ms. Johnson not being able to help him either because his father refused to cooperate, and the last time she saw Advani was in the hallway when he said, “Ms. Johnson, my favorite teacher!” Ms. Johnson said her blood ran cold, and there was seriously something wrong with that kid. This story was not only depressing, but a little scary actually.

Two things in the second book (The Girls in the Back of the Classroom) that legitimately pissed me off (not the book itself, but certain situations and things people did): One, Mr. Lydecker, and how he got in NO trouble whatsoever for how he treated Emilio (not to mention other kids). It’s despicable how teachers can get away with anything, just because they’re adults, but students are the ones who always get in trouble. Emilio had to go to jail and miss graduation because he got physical with Mr. Lydecker? When Mr.—nope, I won’t even call him ‘Mr.’ When Lydecker is the one who started it? The dumb excuse for a man would verbally abuse kids, see Emilio and Emilio’s girlfriend walking down the hallway, and FLIRT WITH HER. That’s right, fucking FLIRT WITH HER. This is disgusting on so many levels. First off, she’s a high school student. You’re a high school teacher. If you’re a full-grown man, do not go up to a teenage girl and hit on her. You are the scum of the earth if you do that. Secondly, right in front of her boyfriend? Just because he’s a student you don’t like and you want to get to him? That’s way, way low. And the most horrible thing about the whole situation was that Lydecker got away with it COMPLETELY. And people wonder why teens rebel against adults???

The second thing in this book that enraged me was when the two girls,

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Maria and Isabella, got suspended I think? In some kind of trouble for…what? I’ll tell you what: NOTHING. They were ATTACKED in the girls’ bathroom by two other bitches, and Maria and Isabella were the VICTIMS. And yet, they got in trouble, for someone ATTACKING THEM. And they didn’t even fight back. Not that that would have been a bad thing, because they had every right to. But I can’t begin to comprehend how a school can have the power to suspend two innocent girls for doing NOTHING when they were the ones being attacked. Why don’t they go ahead and suspend anyone that’s been abused or raped at one point in their lives too, while they’re at it?

This reminds me of how when I was in high school, my assistant principle said there was ‘no such thing as self-defense’. That has to be the most absurd, preposterous, LIE I’ve ever heard. I get so heated when schools deny us the right to self-defense, because here’s the thing. We live in a dangerous world. We live in a world where people will attack you, rape you, kill you, like no one’s business. This bullshit people believe that school is safer than anything else in the world is exactly that: bullshit. There are always deserted places in schools where no teacher, administrator, or grown-up in general is around, and EVEN IF they are…if someone’s crazy enough to attack someone else, do you honestly think they’ll care if they have witnesses? If they get caught? If you threaten them with expulsion? And don’t think that you can stop them either…you think that just because you’re a grown-up and they’re a teen, they can’t kick your ass? There are PLENTY of teenagers out there who are bigger and stronger than most adults, or if they have a gun or knife, it won’t even matter.

If someone attacks me in a deserted area, I’m supposed to just sit there and let them do whatever the hell they want to me, because if I fight back to PROTECT myself, I’m going to get in trouble? What kind of masochistic BULLSHIT is that? How can you teach children and teens not to protect themselves when someone is hurting them? There’s ‘no such thing as self-defense’? Tell that to all the people out there who’ve been raped or kidnapped or have lost a loved one to cold-blooded murder.A couple criticisms: (I can't remember which book each one occurs in) There was a boy who would wear a black t-shirt with a skull on it, and for some reason, this was criticized. I'm not really sure why. I hope Louanne Johnson herself is above that kind of close-mindedness. For some reason, there are some adults out there that like to pick on every little thing a teen is wearing just because it isn't THEIR personal style. It's wrong. I don't go around picking at everything I see adults (especially teachers, who aren't even allowed to wear jeans for some reason) wearing, even though I don't like it. So I don't know what was up with that.There was a part where a non-white kid was talking about how he went up to a person (presumably white, I think) on the streets and asked if he could have their jacket. They gave it to him. Then he goes on to say that it was racism because the only reason the person did that was because they were afraid of him....That's not racism. That's someone being cautious because you are acting weird and suspicious toward them. They are perfectly within their rights, not to mention normal common sense, to be wary of you. No normal person just goes up to a random stranger and asks them for their hoodie or whatever. Maybe they were in a rough neighborhood. Maybe they wanted to avoid trouble. Maybe you were dressed like a thug. Get over it. It doesn't matter how "nice" you may have been about it, your clear intention was still to get something out of them. That does not make you the victim, it makes you a bully. Stop taking advantage of other people and then crying racism. That shit gets real old, real fast.There is also a brief part where some white students in the classroom are supposed to feel guilty about not caring what the minority students think about them-COMPLETELY ignoring the fact that it's because said minority students are constantly making racist remarks toward them, or just don't like them period because they're white. Why aren't the minority kids called out on this? Why is it always just the white people who should feel guilty about things? Especially when all they're doing is fighting back against kids in the class who are attacking them FIRST.

Aside from all that, I would recommend this book to almost anyone, adults and teens alike. Probably not kids though, seeing as how it has older content and would probably not interest them anyway. It’s very touching, real, and I’d like to read it again. There’s always something to take away from work like this. I’d also like to check out Louanne Johnson’s other works.

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Category: Review

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