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.

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Missed Obama’s Economic Recovery Speech Tuesday? Find it here!

If you happened to miss President Obama’s speech last Tuesday, please check out the video below. In his joint session of Congress address, he offered a plan for economic recovery that included a focus on energy, healthcare and education. Check out his speech below!





CB Reviews: “Immigrants and Boomers”: An Enlightened View of Immigration & Demographics

immigrants-and-boomers

The current state of America’s priorities and challenges can be summed up by looking at one place: the negotiations surrounding the 2009 Obama Economic Stimulus package. This plan, totaling nearly $790 Billion, aims to help revive the struggling economy, while laying a heavy financial burden on future generations to pay for. Democrats and Republicans battled over which financial expenditures in the areas of education, technology, health care, energy and infrastructure, will likely yield the greatest number of jobs, fix the economy and secure America’s future.

These competing priorities are at the heart of the Dowell Myers’s book, “Immigrants and Boomers: Forging a New Social Contract for the Future of America.” In this treatise, Myers argues that a new intergenerational contract needs to be created between retiring Baby Boomers and newly arrived immigrants to solve our economic and demographic challenges. Myers describes it as a “social contract of intergenerational support,” which is “based in intergenerational transfers of resources through the mediums of taxation and social expenditure.”

Quite simply, Myers proposes a more enlightened view of immigrant arrivals and the challenges that it presents to America. Instead of thinking of immigrants in what he describes as a “Peter Pan” way, whereby they remain stuck in an infancy stage of assimilation, he challenges the voting public to consider a picture of immigrants who have evolved, developed and contribute greatly to society. It is these immigrants (in addition to the native born) that will become the taxpayers of the future who will provide the financial support to the elderly Baby Boomers. In essence, the immigrants of today will pay for the Social Security, pensions and health care of aging Boomers. Subsequently, it is in our shared best interest to invest in education and assist in the integration and assimilation of our foreign born entrants.

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The First-Time Voter: Why She’s Voting for Obama
Perry (far right) with daughters and grandkids

Perry (far right) with daughters and grandkids

Ruthann Perry, 50, of Virginia Beach, Va. is a first-time voter. Originally from Providence, Rhode Island, the mother of four girls and 10 grandchildren will cast her first vote in the 2008 election on Tuesday, Nov. 4. Perry now owns a daycare center in Virginia Beach. Her center keeps five kids, all of whom she claims are Obama supporters. After hearing Obama’s speeches, she became an Obama supporter and first time voter.

Research shows Perry is not alone. According to a recent Pew Report, one out of 10 voters in 2008 are voting for the first time. And as an African American, Perry is one of the 21 percent of first-time voters who are black.

Why have you chosen to vote in this election?
I’ve chosen to vote because of Obama. Obama means change. This country needs a change. I like Obama. I like what he is saying about medical (health care) issues.

Why is this election important to you?
Because America needs a change. I think Obama is that change. I’m also concerned about medical issues and education for the children.

Why didn’t you vote in the past?
I know it seems silly but I didn’t want get picked for jury duty, that’s my reason. But I didn’t know that you don’t have to be a voter to be selected for jury duty.

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McCain’s hits Obama with a Mis-Education Ad

McCain’s recent education ad deals Obama some pretty harsh blows. The ad claims Obama wants 5-year olds to learn about sex before reading. And it says Obama has accomplished zilch in the education arena. Of course, it doesn’t speak at all to McCain’s track record on sex education or lessons for the kiddies.

Well, I’ve done a little digging and found that the statements are largely untrue, according to FactCheck.org.

STATEMENT 1: The ad claims that Obama’s one accomplishment is “legislation to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergarteners.”

FALSE – Although the Illinois bill McCain speaks of included the phrase “comprehensive sex education,” it also mandated age-appropriate instruction for kindergartners about issues like sexually transmitted diseases, inappropriate touching, etc. Obama supported the legislation because it would update Illinois’ sex education curriculum by making it “medically accurate.” And under the legislation, parents could remove their children from the class – no questions asked.

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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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  • 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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