Louanne Johnson - DANGEROUS MINDS


by Louanne Johnson

The book I am talking about is based on real facts. It consists of separate snapshots which means that the chapters are independent from each other. The story is told in the first person by Louanne Johnson - an

ex-marine - who decided to become an English teacher at Parkmont Highschool. Although the school is situated in a white middle-class area the majority of the students has to cope with social problems.But this meant a challenge to Louanne Johnson, the main character. Parkmont Highschool offers several programs

to it´s students. The most important group are the academy students who have above-average grades and generally plan to go to college. On the other hand are the regular P-students whose performances are not so good. In  NEP classes which means Non-Englisch-Proficient there are immigrant kinds who primarily have to learn English. The summer school kids who are the least motivated have to make up for their failures of the regular school year.

Miss Johnson:  she intended to teach Highschool just for one year because she needed the money and also the experience to get the position of a college professor. The reason why she gets hooked for approximately four years  is the joy she feels whenever she can motivate a "difficult" student to achieve his or her goals.Of course there are also students who don't want to be helped. This nearly breaks her heart but none the less she never gives up. Most of her students have hardly any self-esteem what she tries to compensate. For instance there is a boy with bad marks in one of her classes who often bumps into her on purpose until she finds out that he is longing for some affection. So she instinctively hugs him. The effect is so positive that she "administers" him a hug every day. In cotrast to this motherly or loving approach stand her tough methods referring back to her time as a  Marine.       (page 25)

This shows that even when she is authoritarian she remains fair and her words have an impact because she speaks the same language as her students.

One of her aims is teaching them that they have choices in their lifes and that they have to stand up for their opinion. For example she writes I HAVE TO and I CAN'T on the blackboard and orders the students to finish the sentences. Then they have to cross off HAVE and replace it with CHOOSE and cross off CAN'T and replace it with DON'T WANT TO. Some students argue that for instance they were forced to go to school by their parents. But Miss Johnson replies:      (page 215)

With this example she shows them that they are  responsible for themselves and that they can be successful. She also gives them the power to cope with the obstacles in life.

NEP (Non-English-Proficient): They come from all over the world and don't speak English. Many of them cannot even write in their native languages and nearly half of them had never been to school before because they always had to work in order to support their families. But in contrast to the Amerikan kids they come prepared with pencils and notebooks because they wanted to learn everything.

Summer school kids : they hate everything and every teacher because they blame it on the school for flunking. In this class the teachers are often confronted with racial conflicts and gang fights.These students don't care about school.

Academy students:In contrast to regular students  they have above-averages on their exams and generally plan to attend college.They are interested in school and participate in the lesson in an active way.

Hal Gray:Master teacher of Miss Johnson. When she gets in trouble and needs advice he is the one she turns to. Hal has been a teacher for many years  and so he has a lot of experiences to pass to her.

But unlike the rest of the staff he is still very idealistic and has a good sense of humor.

He tries to make his students stand up for their opinion and believes in themselves. For him as a teacher it is not so important which subject is thaught. What really counts for him is to encourage them to form their own ideas.

For all these reasons Hal is Miss Johnson's example.

The message of the book - represented by Hal's statements - is to cope with the lack of fairness in life - especially for students.

+  sehr genaue Beschreibung des Inhalts und der Charaktere

-  über den Autor und seine Motivationen wird keine Auskunft gegeben



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