Why would you call your students skanks?

A few days ago I went to see the French movie The Class (Entre Les Murs).  Spring break!  What better time to watch a movie about an urban school - with subtitles, no less?  I went solely for the teacher-y aspect of it - though I enjoy independent films, I don't see a ton of foreign films, mostly because I simply don't have time.  But spring break, free time, a non-teacher friend who wanted to see it too....seemed a perfect combination.  Not so much.  

The movie clearly isn't intended to be inspirational; rather, I THINK it's intended to be a realistic portrayal of the Western public educational system.  I say think, because frankly I hope it's not.  I hope it's intended to show the inadequacies of some teachers in the system, but that those teachers are the exception rather than the rule.  But, um, based on the movie?  Yeah, nothing in it actually supports my ideal interpretation.  

The movie follows a fourth-year teacher, M. Marin, and his French class (but French like English classes here are about literature and writing as well as the English language, not just the language.  Since, y'know, it's in Paris.  And the students all speak French already.  Anyway) in a Parisian high school.  The kids are around 8th grade and very diverse - much like an urban American school, but with different nationalities.  M. Marin clearly cares about his students and their education, but is decidely....imperfect.  

I spent the whole movie cringing - the way teachers complained about their students, the way students were allowed to speak to each other with complete disrespect and few consequences, the insistences the teachers made that they were above the rules the students had to follow, the incredibly inappropriate interactions between teachers and students (including the one from the title of my post), the utter lack of consequences for the killed me. Caring about your kids only goes so far when everything else has fallen apart.  

About a third of the way through, I leaned over to my friend and asked him if he found M. Marin sympathetic.  He said yeah right away, then stopped to think about it, and amended his response to he didn't know.  When we talked about the movie after, he said he thought the movie was trying to show what education is actually like.  And that makes me want to throw up.  

I don't want this to be real.  This can't be real.  This can't be an accurate vision of what most teachers and most schools are like, because if it is....if it is, we're failing our students worse than I realized, and that breaks my heart.


Tiki Martin said...

Some of us are, and some of us aren't. It's just like any other profession--there are bad teachers mixed in with the good ones. A colleague of mine upstairs does things like text her students to "shut up" when they are not supposed to have cell phones at all. Things can get pretty ridiculous.

"I'm a dreamer but I ain't the only one Got problems but we love to have fun" -K'naan, "Dreamer"

I teach eighth grade Language Arts at an urban school. My kids kick ass and will change the world. I want everyone to know.
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