The Class

Trust a French secondary school to come equipped with champagne glasses. Just in case the teachers need to celebrate. Other than that, French schools are surprisingly similar to English ones.

Can’t decide if it would have been beneficial to read up on The Class before seeing it, or not. As it was, I wasn’t entirely sure if it was ‘real’ or acted. It couldn’t be real, but it felt real. It is both. François Bégaudeau used to be an ordinary teacher in an ordinary, difficult Paris school. Then he wrote a book about being a teacher, and before he knew where he was, François was playing himself in the film of the book, in a real school, acting with real students from that school.

They used lines in some cases, and sometimes the children simply said what they wanted to say. That’s why it’s so real. This is a school in a disadvantaged part of Paris, with many immigrants, including children whose parents don’t speak French. It must be physically and mentally exhausting to work in a classroom like François’s , but for the cinema audience it’s also incredibly inspiring.

The students are horrible a lot of the time, but they are also very human and normal. I particularly liked the ‘baddie’ Souleymane, who could do nice work if he tried. He didn’t try much. Am a little shocked that they wouldn’t use an interpreter for his mother. Also intrigued that they use student representatives for even quite private discussions. But each country to their own. There is a good and there is bad.

The behaviour of the students was openly worse than I’ve seen in my well-off part of England, but I think that’s just a surface difference. Behind our uniforms and slightly politer forms of address, you have the same children.

Go and see The Class. The end is what you’d expect, and quite sad, but still inspiring.


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