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Reviewing The Movie Lean On Me

Lean on Me is a movie based upon a true story, which begins in 1967 at an urban high school called East Side High in Paterson, New Jersey. All of the students were well behaved and the school itself was in remarkably good condition. It was youre by all appearances a model school. Within East Side High, there was a teacher named Joe Clark. He was very passionate about his teaching and methods and was very committed to his students. He taught in a unique way that made learning more enjoyable. However, the other teachers in the school were not too fond of his style or curriculum. They all had a meeting and voted on whether Joe Clark should be transferred to a different school. He was soon transferred.

The movie skips twenty years ahead to 1987. You first see a visual of the school. It is completely trashed, graffiti everywhere, broken glass, and garbage in nearly every corner. The students were then shown walking through the halls dealing drugs, fighting and completely out of control. They refused to follow not only the schools rules, but also rules of common courtesy toward other human beings. In addition they showed no respect cursing at teachers and talking back to them. They simply refused to do school work and there was a major lack of discipline because the teachers had no control over the students. The majority of the students appeared to be chronic delinquents. Chronic delinquent offenders are youths who start their delinquent careers at a young age, have serious and repeated brushes with the law, and build a career in crime; these youths do not age out of crime but continue their criminal behavior into adulthood. (Juvenile Delinquents, 60)

The conditions that existed at East Side High were hurting the reputation of the mayor who was running for

re-election. He knew that something had to be done to turn this school around. He then decided to bring back Joe Clark because they new that Joe possessed the qualities that were needed to get the job done. After much arm-twisting, Joe Clark finally agreed to become the principal of East Side High School.

Principal Clarks first order of business was to expell the worst of the chronic delinquents. He knew the school would be a lot more safe and educationally functional without them. He then put locked chains on all of the doors to keep them out. All that remained were the good students and perhaps some of the status offenders. A status offense is conduct that is illegal only because the child is under age (Juvenile Delinquency, 21). Joe Clark was a disciplinarian. He was a high-energy, often abrasive person who was nevertheless compassionate but not soft. He believed in rules and structure and was very committed to his job. His personality, however, did not always mesh well with others. The teachers as well as the students found him to be too often unnecessarily cruel and harsh. Many people were simply terrified of crossing him because he could be so explosive. He began to fire teachers who did not meet his demands or whose teaching style he did not agree with.

However, as people got used to him they found that he had a softer side and, in fact had a big heart. They realized that he was just trying to turn the school around and that he was making progress doing just that. While Joe Clark was principal, the school did a complete 180 degree turn in its commitment to educational improvement. He cleaned up the school, convinced the students that school work were important and that delinquent behavior, lack of education and drugs lead to nowhere in life.

Joe Clark had to deal with a wide range of problems amongst his students. These included teenage pregnancies, drug dealing, gangs, students who lacked role models at home, students with no motivation to learn, and students with extreme behavioral or discipline problems. All of these issues stood between Joe Clark and his efforts to improve the quality of education at the school.

Joes students may have hated him at first, but they learned important lessons. He wanted to get this message out to his students no matter what it took. This required a super human effort on his part. For some it was being a father figure and for others it was being a disciplinarian. Every student needed to be handled on an individual basis and Joe Clark really understood this.

Joe had amazingly effective ways of getting through to the students. Not only did he restore discipline at the school, but he also taught students the importance of self-respect. He knew that in order for them to respect others they had to respect themselves. If there is a moral to this story or a lesson to be learned it is that young people need to know that someone cares about them and that if they are given a structure and an opportunity to succeed, more often than not, they will succeed.

These children could have participated in many kinds of therapy to change their delinquent ways. The four most popular are individual counseling, psychotherapy, reality therapy and behavior modification. (Juvenile Delinquency, 643)

Individual counseling is when counselors help juveniles understand and solve their current adjustment problems. It is one of the most common treatment approaches.(Juvenile Delinquency, 643)

Psychotherapy is highly structured counseling in which a skilled therapist helps a juvenile solve conflicts and make a more positive adjustment to society. This requires a complete analysis of the juveniles past childhood experiences. Therapists try to reverse negative behavior patterns learned in childhood. (Juvenile Delinquency, 643)

Reality therapy is a form of counseling that emphasizes current behavior and that requires the individual to accept responsibility for all of his or her actions. This makes the juvenile realize that they are responsible for their own actions. (Juvenile Delinquency, 644)

Behavior modification is a technique used for shaping desired behaviors through a system of rewards and punishments. It is used in many institutions. However, it is very difficult to use in the real world. (Juvenile Delinquency, 644)

These are all very good techniques and I believe they would have been very useful for the students at East Side High. If the students had tried these before Joe Clark had expelled them, maybe they could have changed their attitudes and become better students.

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