CB’s Review: “The Class (Entre Les Mur)”: Who is Teaching Who?

If you ever wanted to understand why teaching puberty-ridden, curious and often rebellious high school kids is a tough job, just watch the French film, The Class (Entre Les Murs). This movie dives into the deep end of the complexities of teaching a multi-ethnic, socioeconomic diverse class in the new immigrant rich France.

The Class (2008) takes place inside the narrow confines of the high school campus, which may sound limiting, but it was a careful choice made by director Laurent Cantet.  The docudrama is based on a book and screenplay written by François Bégaudeau, the author and teacher who plays himself in the movie. It is a somewhat loose day-in-the-life story of his struggles to teach a diverse class of challenging students.

Most viewers realize the teachers are in for a rough time from the very first scene. Smartly foreshadowing the year to come, a group of teachers meet to prepare for the incoming students. The team shares its words of encouragement and advice, especially for the rookies. A retiring teacher said “[He’d] like to wish the new arrivals plenty of courage” because he knew they would need it.

The complexity of courage and respect are played out in the film’s French classroom and in “real-world” classrooms internationally. François, and the other teachers, wear a shield of courage each day to face the brutal, disruptive and demanding students. Like the new France, François’ class had students of all nationalities – Moroccan, Mali, Chinese as well as other African and Middle Eastern nations. The Class proves that teachers also needed respect to understand the daily battles their first and second-generation immigrant students encountered in their tough French neighborhoods. These constant clashes between teacher and student for understanding left the audience with mixed sympathies.

This push-pull tension around respect in the classroom was played out perfectly as the movie went from scene to scene. Several students, like Khoumba, a sharp-tongued, moody African girl, were quick to demand respect from their snappy and exasperated teacher. In one power play, she is scolded by François for her insolence in class after refusing to read aloud. In a tug-of-war after class discussion, François demands a sincere apology from her. Feeling a lack of respect shown, she offers a half-hearted apology and runs off to join her friends who waited and snickered in the hallway. Seeking to provide balance to the commentary on respect, the film shows another side of Khoumba, as a sensitive, emotional teenaged girl. In a well-written note to François, she explains how she feels disrespected by him.


CB’s Green Report: It’s All About The Aussies…


Today is a really sad day. Call me a sap, but I absolutely love animals. So, I was extremely saddened to find out that millions of animals have died in the recent Australian fire. (This blaze scorched about 1,2000 square miles of land and the human death toll is expected to hit 200.) Kangaroo corpses have been found along with other burnt animals. And if that wasn’t enough, the animals that have survived the fire will likely perish, if not rescued soon, because their food supply is gone. Wildlife animal rescue is working hard to save the animals. According to the Associated Press, several animals were even harmed after trying to return home.

Kangaroos that survived are suffering from burned feet, a result of their territorial behavior. After escaping the initial flames, the creatures — which prefer to stay in one area — likely circled back to their homes, singeing their feet on the smoldering ground.

Let’s hope all the Aussie animals are rescued and their homeland is restored.


And in a related story…. An Australian volunteer firefighter, David Tree, saw a female koala that looked to be in pain. He began putting water on her paws and took her to a wildlife shelter. The koala, now named Sam, is doing well but will faces a 7 month recovery period for her injuries. She’s made friends easily and even has a boyfriend. Check out the video about her rescue.

There is some possible good news for Australia. The recent Australian fires in Victoria, which were partially caused by arson, has spurred plans for a new fire alert system.  On Thursday, Australia vowed to put a national fire warning system in place. Experts are unsure whether the coordinated alarm system could have saved lives in the country’s worst-ever wildfire. The proposed system would send automated warnings to phones in the affected areas.  Hopefully, the Australian government will implement the much needed system.

And although the fire alert system may help once there is an active blaze, it appears global warming could have partially contributed to the fires, and lead to an increase in future ones. (Note: One man has been arrested for arson related to these fires.) The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that “fires in Australia were virtually certain to increase in intensity and frequency because of steadily warming temperatures over the next several decades.” According to TIME.com, Australia’s temperature has warmed 0.9°C since 1950, and climate models predict it could increase 5°C by 2070, especially if global warming isn’t stopped. In addition to fires and increasing temperatures, climate change could cause heat weaves and droughts in Australia. Those of us in California know that dry weather along with hot temperatures is a breeding ground for wildfires. These fires are just another reason why everyone needs to work together to stop global warming.

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My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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Bad drivers, cranky and moody people, lack of sleep, crime, filth

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.



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