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Movie review: The Pursuit of Happyness

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The Pursuit of Happyness tells the touching story, based on real-life events, of a man named Christopher Gardner and his elementary-aged son named Chris. Throughout the movie the pair struggle to survive after the father loses his life savings after he invests in a non-profitable bone density machine. Subsequently, Mr. Gardner's wife leaves him alone with their son Chris. It is not long before they are they are evicted from their apartment and become homeless. We see the daily life for the father and son duo as they live out of a homeless shelter and worry daily about meals and survival.

Watching the Pursuit of Happyness reminds me of my work at Burnet Middle School. Chris Gardner's daily struggles are similar to many of the everyday worries faced by the students whom I work with. Many of our students live in houses struck by poverty their families struggle to pay utility bills and rent, often have difficulty providing enough food, and they typically share a living space with several other individuals. Many of our students have been forced to relocate several times over their lives due to evictions. They may go without electricity or running water for a period of time. In short, many of our students must tolerate living situations over which they have very little control.

[...] Living in these circumstances often makes students feel frustrated, alone, and scared. They may worry about younger siblings or grandparents who have difficulty caring for themselves in meager conditions. Often students wonder whether they are the only one out of their group of peers dealing with stress at home. Sometimes they must go to bed without having dinner or with no heat or air conditioning. This preoccupation with home life often compounds daily stress, making it more difficult to become a successful student. [...]

[...] Learning healthy methods of expressing feelings such as journaling or exercising may be beneficial. Encouraging students to become involved in extracurricular activities such as Boys & Girls Club or sports may deter students from trouble elsewhere. When stress does interfere with academic performance, we can act as personal tutors to provide one-on-one academic assistance to students who are in need. Having a positive relationship with one caring, stable adult may be just what many of these students need to succeed. [...]

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