In the film Lean on Me, Joe Clark, played by Morgan Freeman, took on the responsibility of being the principle for a troubled inner-city high school. The students at this high school were mainly minority children, faced by issues of poverty, drugs, and racism everyday. The state of New Jersey claimed that this school was heading nowhere but down and that the teachers were unable to teach the children the basic skills they needed to survive in the world.
I feel the causes of the schools poor quality was to the lack of money & funds they receive from the state which lead to poor programming. The children whom attended the school had a lack of motivation and direction. They were unsure as to what they wanted to achieve with their lives. They needed to be inspired by their teachers, and their families. However, as seen in this film, children in the inner-city setting often never find the inspiration and direction they need to succeed. Many of them have parents that do not want to play an active role in the lives of their children.
I feel that in the case of this film, Joe Clark?s authoritarian methodology of administering was very effective. This school and the children who attended it needed someone to ?take charge?, and build it back up to shape. He first kicked out the ?trouble students?, then he cleaned the halls of the graffiti, then he chained the doors to keep the drug dealers out. He gave students confidence and inspiration to succeed.
He gave them a common goal, to ?prove the state wrong?. He enforced in their minds that they were not ignorant and they were capable of anything. By insisting they learn the school song he gave them a sense of pride. I feel that Joe Clark did just what the school and most importantly the students needed to ?turn the school around?. In the end, his methods of leadership worked, for the students achieved just what they had set out to do, pass the basic skills test given by the state.
The women who fought Joe Clark?s methodology, was played by Lynne Thigpen. She was portrayed as ?wench?, who was demanding on the city to get rid of Joe Clark because he chained the school doors and was in violation of the cities fire code. However, I feel she was really just upset because he expelled the ?problem children? out of the school, one of whom was her son. Instead of blaming herself as a parent for the failure of her son, she turned the blame on the school system and those who run it. While some critics would say that she was being portrayed in a positive light, as being a strong and determined black women. I feel that is false, I feel she is being portrayed as ignorant and arrogant and just wants revenge for something that was her own fault because she is not being an attentive and responsible parent.
I also feel that the music plays an important role in this film. The music in the film is what gives the children hope and pride. The title of the movie is from the song ?Lean on Me?, written by Bill Withers. This song has lyrics that bring hope to the children. ?Some times in our lives we all have pain, we all have sorrow, but if you are wise we know there is always tomorrow. Lean on me, when your not strong, and I?ll give you hope, I?ll help you carry on.?
It is relating to the students by saying we all face struggles, but we need to have hope that we can survive, and sometimes we need to get support and inspiration from others in order to stay strong and succeed. This song reminds these children that they are not alone and they can achieve anything if they put their minds to it. I feel that this song explains the theme of the movie, in the face of trouble anyone can succeed as long as they are motivated and try their hardest, and they have the love and support of others.
In conclusion, I enjoyed this movie and I feel this film was very palatable because its characters were well developed and very believable. Its screenplay was written very well and is very realistic. We, as young adults can relate to this film because the issues these children face are the same issues that children in face everyday, and even more so for those who come from the inner city themselves.
Courtney from Study Moose
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