Dangerous Minds

Transcript from Dangerous Minds

High School Classroom, Belmont, California

Like Stand & Deliver, Dangerous Minds is also based on the work of an actual teacher. LouAnne Johnson retired from the U.S. Marine Corps and took a position teaching English. Most of her students were African-American and Latino teenagers from a poverty-stricken, racially segregated, economically deprived city. She is about to introduce poetry to the class.


Yeah, so what’s the prize we’re gonna get for learning this poem?

LouAnne Johnson

Learning is the prize. Yeah. Knowing how to read something and understand it is the prize. Okay? Knowing how to think is the prize.


I know how to think right now.

LouAnne Johnson

Okay. Well, yeah, well, you know how to run too. But not the way you could run if you trained. You know, the mind is like a muscle. Okay? And if you want it to be really powerful, you got to work it out. Okay? Each new fact gives you another choice. Each new idea builds another muscle, okay? And it’s those muscles that are gonna make you really strong. Those are your weapons, and in this unsafe world I want to arm you.


And that’s what these poems are supposed to do?

LouAnne Johnson

Yeah. Hey, try it. You’re just sittin’ here anyway. Look. Okay. If at the end of the term, you’re not faster, stronger and smarter, you will have lost nothing. But if you are, you’ll be that much tougher to knock down.


So what’s “Hire idiots to paint with cold light and hot shade”?


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