The Class

Posted by schnolis on March 8th, 2009 filed in Reviews

THE_CLASSFrom the first time I saw the preview for this film, I eagerly anticipated attending a screening. When I finally watched the full-length film, I left drained but very satisfied. Much earlier in my life I was actually a teacher for a year in a relatively poor inner-city neighborhood. I began as a temp who ultimately took over a teacher’s schedule when she had a personal issue that prevented her from teaching.

In that year, I learned an enormous quantity of things about myself, teaching, and education for a bunch of kids who really don’t see the purpose of it all. The Class is all about that kind of environment. At a school in France, a bunch of very well-meaning and apparently talented teachers attempt to give the disadvantaged students an education that will help them in their real world. Every day those teachers face the real challenge of students without a working understanding of even basic concepts. The students don’t see the value in what they’re learning, as the knowledge doesn’t come close to being practical in their daily lives. Collectively, the class resists education, and often for no reason other than teenage antagonism.

The movie focuses specifically on one teacher and his class of young teens. It follows the arc of one school year. There is very little action in this movie, but it felt so authentic I was almost nauseated when I left the show. I remember the panic that would come over me when I started losing the battle to impart knowledge to my students, and the realization that I was the only chance they would have to learn a particular thing. It is a terrific thrill when things work, when the students listen and even learn. However, it’s also frightening to struggle through the bad days. This movie complete captured that feeling.

What I liked: The great, authentic portrayal of the classroom. The great demonstration of the fine line walked by educators to keep their cool and focus in the face of tremendous adversity. The teachers and their obvious passion to do well, and the chance to see their fallibility as well.

What I disliked: The frequency of scenes in the same space over and over. I know there’s probably a good side to this, but I found it a little draining not changing environment enough.

Rating: 9 of 10

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