Friday, April 6, 2012

'Freedom Writers' takes a stand with sociometry

In the movie, Freedom Writers, a young teacher inspires her high school class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves and pursue education beyond high school.

How does she do it?

Sheer  determination, plus a good dose of the creative arts, including writing journals about their lives. The teacher Erin Gruwell (portrayed by Hilary Swank) also uses sociometry when she introduces the "stand on the line" exercise with masking tape to show common relationships to dilute the oppositional behavior and anger of her students and dramatically show them how much they have in common.

In sociometric terms, it's a kind of a locogram and kind of a spectrogram.

She says:

"Stand on the line if you've lost a friend to gang violence."
"Stand on the line if you've lost more than one friend..."
"Four or more..."

Finally, she challenges them to change the roles that they have played to survive their violent neighborhoods and find new roles that gives promise and power to their lives. That's what we do with psychodrama -- identifying connections with sociometric warm ups and begin to change the story and the roles that are acted out.

Find a teacher's guide for The Line Game here.

See a brief clip here: