“The Line Game”
For the students of Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, school has become a war zone. They live in a world of racially divided clicks and gangs, and each one of them does whatever they can to protect their own kind. Inside the classrooms, students from poorer neighborhoods are assigned separate classes from the "normal" suburban teens. Not that anybody's there to learn. “For these students it's a matter of being babysat during school hours, until they're old enough to drop out on their own.” (Ms.Cambal (department head)) Each of them sit next to their own ethnic group and believe that the world would be a better place without the other “groups”; that is until these poor and divided students step into Ms.Gruwell’s classroom.
The line game is a game that brings the students together and helps them realize how much they have in common. Ms.Gruell puts a line of tape down the middle of the classroom and asks the students questions. If a question applies to them they step forward onto the line. Their teacher begins with simple questions, asking them if they have the resent music album by Snoop Dog, and if they have seen the movie “Boys in the Hood.” With these simple questions the students begin to realize how much they have in common. Then she begins to ask more serious questions like if they live in the projects or have been to juvenile hall or jail. As most of them continue to step on the line they begin to realize that members of each group suffer through the same things day after day. She asks if they know people in the gangs and asks them how many friends they have lost due to gang violence. She connects them to one another and makes then feel pity on each other.
This scene knocks me off center because these students are only fourteen and fifteen and they have been through so much. There are 34 students in the class and when Ms.Gruell asks how many live in government housing, everyone but one or two people step on the line. They...