Teacher François Marin and his colleagues are preparing for another school year teaching at a racially mixed inner city high school in Paris. The teachers talk to each other about their prospective students, both the good and the bad. The teachers collectively want to inspire their students, but each teacher is an individual who will do things in his or her own way to achieve the results they desire. They also have differing viewpoints on the students themselves, and how best to praise and discipline them. The administration of the school tries to be as fair as possible, which includes having student representatives sit on the student evaluation committee. Marin's class this year of fourteen and fifteen year olds is no different than previous years, although the names and faces have changed. Marin tries to get through to his students, sometimes with success and sometimes resulting in utter failure. Even Marin has his breaking point, which may result in him doing things he would ... Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. Not a film in the traditional sense and not a documentary by true definition, it mixes the two into an absorbing, addictive 128 minutes.
Over the years, I have often questioned the educational system and why both teachers and students are so frustrated. Here we get an inside look at both sides and it still leaves me wondering "why?". Why do otherwise intelligent people commit to becoming teachers? Why do we insist on teaching formats that are miserable for both teacher and student? Why do so many parents blame the school and so few take an active, supportive role? This is the story of Francois Begaudeau, who also wrote the book upon which director Laurent Cantet's film is based.
Begaudeau is a junior high teacher in a working class, multi-ethnic Paris school where the teachers have resigned themselves to the fact that most of the students just don't care to learn. We get an incredible amount of classroom time showing how the melting pot of cultures has so much to offer, yet seems impossible to tap into.
Also fascinating are the teacher meetings and discussions that occur away from the students. We see no joy in these teachers and most seem just beaten down. The film offers no solutions, it strictly acts as a peek inside the institution.
While we are left to our own accord to pick sides or dream of alternatives, I continue to ask the same "why" questions over and over.
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