Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

27 December 2009

The Class

I finally saw last year's Cannes winner Entre les Murs (The Class). And I loved it.

The reason it took me so long to sit down and pop this DVD in is that I thought The Class was gonna be one of those good-white-teacher-comes-into-troubled-area-with-lots-of-urban-kids dramas that purport to be inspirational but are actually predictable, tiresome, clichéd, and almost always more than a little racist.

The Class isn't any of those things. In fact, The Class is profound. It's about education in France and the real struggles that teachers go through. It's also about the fundamental quandaries of education: like the power differential inherent in the very model of pedagogy, and the question of why students should learn the things we want to teach them.

This movie is totally fascinating. There are protracted sequences where we literally just watch François Bégaudeau teach a class of students about verb tenses or Anne Frank. And you might think these sequences would be boring. They're not. They are positively riveting. The teacher goes from question to question answering, helping, assisting the students in their own teaching. It's superb, really.

I know this movie is a year old and I am sorry it has taken me so long to get to it. I loved The Class so much that I am moving it to #4 on my list for 2008.