February 1, 2010

"The Class"

I never got around to posting my old review from The American Conservative of the 2009 French movie "The Class." So, for completists:
“The Class,” a slice-of-life drama tracking a year in an inner city Parisian junior high school, has been greeted rapturously, winning the top prize at the Cannes film festival. The critical acclaim stems mostly from “The Class” not being Hilary Swank’s 2007 “Freedom Writers” or all those other tiresome Nice White Lady movies in which heroic teachers overcome “the soft bigotry of low expectations” and turn their charges into Nobel Laureates.

In contrast, this French film offers a refreshingly realistic depiction of the frustrations of teaching. It’s not wholly plausible—as in all school movies, there is only a single class in “The Class”—but it’s almost unique in suggesting that student quality matters.

“The Class” is based on an autobiographical novel by schoolteacher François Bégaudeau. In the manner of WWII hero Audie Murphy, who played himself in the film version of his memoir “To Hell and Back,” Bégaudeau portrays a teacher named M. Marin. “The Class” could be called “To Heck and Back” because “inner city” doesn’t mean quite the same thing in Paris as it does in Detroit. The French like their cities, so the riotous public housing projects are out in Paris’s dreary suburbs. The Parisian 14-year-olds in “The Class” aren’t gun-packing gangbangers, as in Hollywood movies. They’re just mouthy adolescents, lazy, not terribly bright, and full of ressentiment at the dominance of elitist French culture.

M. Marin’s French literature class is half-French and half-minority, with the unrulier Muslims, black and white, absorbing most of his attention. The smartest and most respectful student is a Chinese immigrant, while the worst troublemaker is Souleymane from Mali in sub-Saharan Africa. One well-spoken lad who hopes to win admission to the elite Lycée Henri IV goes largely ignored in the turmoil caused by his less intelligent classmates. They constantly monitor whether they are being disrespected, so they can get off task. Griping about being dissed is more fun than being forced to reveal to the other kids that they can’t do the work. Marin banters with them, but he’s too genteel to thrive amidst all the dominance struggles.

Now in his fifth year, Marin is no longer an idealist. When a naive colleague suggests that Marin should assign Voltaire’s Candide, he demurs, “The Enlightenment will be tough for them.” Marin tries to get the class to read The Diary of Anne Frank instead (which, in “Freedom Writers,” turns teacher Erin Gruwell’s slum students into prodigies of literary creativity), but it mostly annoys Marin’s heavily Muslim class.

The triumph of multiculturalist ideology is less complete in France than in most other Western countries. Having successfully assimilated European immigrants by immersion in the French language, the French tend to assume that these latest newcomers must eventually wake up and appreciate the inherent superiority of French culture. In his grammatical examples illustrating the imperfect subjunctive (which is employed solely in upscale written French), Marin uses only European names. (That’s a habit that has been drilled out of American teachers.) The students, however, subscribe to American ideas about multiculturalism. An obnoxious girl of North African descent objects to the teacher’s Eurocentric names as “Honkies, Frenchies, Frogs!”

And why do they need to learn the imperfect subjunctive, anyway? “It’s bourgeois,” the children argue, parroting generations of celebrated French leftist intellectuals, not realizing that you can’t get to be a celebrated French leftist intellectual unless you’ve mastered French grammar.

At a teacher’s meeting attended (bizarrely) by two bored student representatives who giggle in the back row, the faculty plots to suspend Souleymane. Marin urges mercy, arguing that Souleymane's not bad, he’s just reached his limits academically. The two students sit upright, scandalized that a teacher would suggest that any student is below average in intelligence. The next day, the girls start a brouhaha in class over this, which worsens when Marin responds using grammar too sophisticated for them to interpret correctly. In the ensuing melee, Souleymane unintentionally smacks a bystander in the eye.

After he is expelled, the classroom atmosphere improves. Still, by the end of the year, only the smart students have learned much.

“The Class” is filmed in that unattractive quasi-documentary style—claustrophobic close-ups on cheap digital video—that has become de rigueur for prestige films. There’s no music on the soundtrack, and almost no humor, either. The slow “real-time” pacing effectively conveys the boredom felt by many students, but the opportunity cost is that there’s no room for an engaging plot.

Rated PG-13 for language.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Diversity is strength"..or maybe not.

anony-mouse said...

1/ In fairness 'Precious' at the end is only working to get her GED-not something beyond reason.

2/ If you want a photographic negative of these movies there's always:

Room 222 (tv series)

To Sir with Love

KingM said...

...the French tend to assume that these latest newcomers must eventually wake up and appreciate the inherent superiority of French culture.

No chance of that, if even most Germans, English, and Americans fail to appreciate the inherent superiority of French culture. Which is, in fact, superior.

Not in every way, of course, but in most of the ways that count.

Nick Sarkozy said...

Why won't anyone make a movie of Frenchman Raspail's incendiary novel Camp of the Saints? What could be more timely source material?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_of_the_Saints

"Incendiary" plot lines lead to buzz and box office. But maybe this one is just a bit too incendiary for the crypto communist nation wreckers who run the film industry?

Instead we get a lot of film industry hype behind communist porn like Baader-Meinhof.

Statsaholic said...

You were on the Opportunity Cost meme kick even back then, eh?

ogunsiron said...

For those who can understand french, there's a much more interesting, much less PC touchy feely movie about suburban (in france , suburbs are the ghetto)schools : La Journee de la Jupe.

Anonymous said...

Off-topic, but The Phantom Menace review guy has got a new review of Avatar, and I'll be dadgummed if it doesn't sound like he's an iSteve reader:

Avatar Review (Part 1 of 2)
youtube.com

Avatar Review (Part 2 of 2)
youtube.com

Class Warfare said...

“The Class” is filmed in that unattractive quasi-documentary style—claustrophobic close-ups on cheap digital video—that has become de rigueur for prestige films. There’s no music on the soundtrack, and almost no humor, either. The slow “real-time” pacing effectively conveys the boredom felt by many students, but the opportunity cost is that there’s no room for an engaging plot.

The look and feel of The Class are just right, and digital video has made this possible. Prior to this technology, filmmakers--especially those with lower budgets--were limited in their capacity to capture/convey off-the-cuff reality. Film stock is expensive, not expendable. For this reason, even making a documentary-style feature film--or real documentaries for that matter--required a good deal of preparation, rehearsal, and pre-planning.

With digital cam, where directors don't have to worry about cost-of-film, movie can be made there and then, in a true improvisatory mode. Of course, The Class had a script and the actors were rehearsed, but I'll bet much of it was created or discovered in the process of the shooting and re-shooting(without anxiety of cost).

This used to be the case with taking snapshots too. Prior to digital cameras, we had to be mindful of what we shot since film developing wasn't cheap. We didn't want to waste film.
There's no such thing as a wasted digital picture or video since it can be erased and re-shot or re-recorded over and over.
The French New Wave films were known for 'spontaneity' but they look downright formalistic compared to many of today's French films.

There's a funny paradox with digital video though. The result is both a greater spontaneity and greater finesse. More spontaneous than the films of Cassavetes yet also less raw. This could be because Cassavetes, working in film, couldn't shoot on and on until he got just what he wanted whereas directors working with digi-video can do just that. The result is a kind of perfectionism of 'imperfectionism'.

Digital video has been a boon and a plus for certain directors and stories.
In other cases, the illusion of immediacy and truth has encouraged directors to just go with the flow than plan-and-construct beforehand.
Abbas Kiarostami used to make much better movies with film. Ever since he came upon the magic of the digi cam, he seems to think just shooting people talking on and on without much prep is CLOSER TO TRUTH.

I don't think The Class suffers from a lack of conventional plot. It's the plotlessness which conveys the frustrations of days filled with hassles and headaches.

Perhaps, we are living in a plotless age--or in a world with too many plots(which comes to the same thing). In the more elitist past, there was the national or social plot guided by the governing elite. When the media was controlled by a relative few, the cultural narrative was defined the journalistic and intellectual elite. When society was more hierarchical, the plot within the family was set by the father and the plot within the school by the teacher. When France was more homogeneous(and when minorities were more admiring and respectful of French authority), the main cultural plot was unmistakably French or Franco-centric(leftist or rightist).

Now, students talk back to teachers. American youth culture defines much of Europe. There are kids of many races and cultures in Europe, and they longer respect the West. We are living in a globalist, demotic, egalitarian, multiculturalist, anti-elitist age. Even the actual Western elites--generally white or Jewish--define themselves through the ideology of 'inclusive' and 'egalitarian' diversity.

There is no more dominating or unifying plot. With the internet, everyone can have his myspace and his own webcam--his own plot, narrative, and agenda. Blogs and youtube has made everyone into a potential journalist or filmmaker(even with a dinky webcam). It's the Age of Mass Entitlement.

Anonymous said...

Not a movie I would go see. Why? Growing up in a large American city I've had to interact on a daily basis with sullen non-whites who have attitude. Why pay money to view more of the same? I'll pay my ticket money for something escapist, but not to view more of the same dreary people that I get for free.

Anonymous said...

The Class may be a good movie but can it top this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-1FnJiH0VA

Rapois Suckois said...

Films like The Class are depressing indeed. There was dissension & disruption in the past but there were two constants in France: it was home of the French and French Culture.

Frenchness was something both the Right and Left were proud of, if for different reasons. For the Right, it was the Grand Tradition, summit of high culture & beauty. For the Left, French intellectualism was the highest achievement in universalism, liberty, equality, fraternity, civilization, enlightenment. For the Left, Frenchness was almost synonymous with being Universal.
Even the French Right felt proud of leftist French artists as icons of French Cultural Tradition, and even the French Left could be plenty nationalistic. Even their brand of internationalism and anti-nationalism was heavily inflected with Frenchness, as if to suggest the world would be blessed with French concepts of liberte, egalite, fraternite.

Then came the twin whammies of the cultural eclipse for the French. American popular culture was one. Loathing of American 'Imperialism' was shared by both Left & Right. But things really got bad with the mix of two elements: Rise in non-white Immigration and Arrival of Rap music. This was like gasoline and matches. Prior to rap, American culture was still white culture. Jazz was heavily black but appealing to the more educated and intellectual crowd. Rap, on the other hand, was appealing for non-white or anti-white reasons, and Muslims and blacks in France took to it against the white French nation. Also, the totally anti-intellectual nature of Rap turned French fans of Rap into morons.

French fans of Classic Hollywood or Jazz could maintain an intellectual--and uniquely French--approach and attitude. But, French fans of Rap just turned stupid.
RAP was a doublewhammy. It was both a case of American Cultural Imperialism and Worldwide Anti-white-ims. African & Muslim arrivals to France didn't take to French culture but adopted rap lingo, dress, attitudes. It was fun & easy. In contrast, even French leftist culture is elitist despite all the rigamarole about egalite, liberte, fraternite; ideas are supposed to be examined in intellectual and historical terms.

French have long fretted about the 'barbarian invasions', but the current assault is unprecedented. It's not just the problem of Diversite. Besides, there has long been the conceit of Paris as a cosmopolitan haven welcoming artists from all over the world. So, there was little threat in appreciating a film by Ford or Kurosawa, music by Charlie Parker or Sinatra.
But, RAP?? I suppose there are intellectual defenders of RAP--we certainly have them here--, but it's a deadend. Perhaps, the less intellectual & historically-aware Americans are more comfortable with Rap. After all, a running theme in American history is cultural amnesia and the need to 'reinvent ourselves'.
In contrast, the French, especially after loss of imperial glory and great power status, are defined by their historical and cultural consciousness. French culture could be cosmopolitan and 'inclusive' but only as long as non-French cultures are in tune with the hallmarks of French culture--intellectualism, sophistication, seriousness, elegance, depth, complexity, etc. So, a Spanish artist like Picasso, Polish filmmaker like Kieslowski, or Jazz artist like Miles Davis were welcome in France, and their expressions were incorporated into Frenchness.
But, Rap + waves of Immigration pose a real challenge to not just French demographics but to French culture. It was IFFY enough as to whether all these newcomers would take to French culture, but now it seems these people are defiantly defining themselves by American Inner City Hood attitudes, savage music, and car burning. Paris is Burning.

Whiskey said...

Excellent comment by Rapois. Just outstanding.

Naivete said...

How times have changed. A film like The Class makes one long for the insensitive albeit demanding educational system in 400 BLOWS. Audiences winced back in 1959 when adults--teachers, parents, guardians, etc--imposed their authority on the kids, especially the troublesome Antoine Doinel. Though Antoine is no saint, we are made to feel he's a misunderstood kid who needs to be loved and guided by more empathetic adults.

But, when one sees the trashy reality in movies like The Class--where well-fed immigrant kids from around the world are provided with free education and free everything by the generous French nation on which they piss on--, one wishes for some order, discipline, and respect.

There is a world of difference between French kids in the 40s or 50s playing hookie to see the lastest Bogart film or bumming a cigarette AND immigrant kids talking shit to teachers, filled with rage and hatred, and reveling on non-stop obnoxiousness(or worse, burning cars and acting like total animals in films like La Haine).
It's gotten to a point where even the Left, which had once promoted egalitarian pedogogy, anti-Western dogma, and the cult of revolutonary violence, are having second thoughts.
Indeed, The Class is part of the 'Leftist Desperation Verging on Remorse' genre. One senses a desperate wish for some light at the end of the tunnel, but such is becoming less likely.

On the one hand, there is the rising youth nihilism and savagery. At the other extreme--partly in reaction to Western decadence and hedonistic youth corruption--, there is the rising tide of fundamentalist Islam. Some immigrants kids don't wanna adopt French culture since it's uncool. Others reject it because it's 'racist and imperialist'--or whatever they were taught in school by PC. Others reject it because it's godless and soulless. Some put on hip hop baggy pants while others insist on burkas.

It doesn't help that most immigrants are poor, mainly for reasons of race or culture. But, the prevailing PC in media and education teaches kids that poverty among non-whites is the product of 'racism' and 'imperialism'. So, there is angry and self-righteous victim mentality which seeks fun and solace in hip hop gangsta culture.

It must be said, however, that such lunacy could be homegrown and native. Punk was British and mostly white but what an ugly and hideous cultural impact that had on British youths. It's almost like A Clockwork Orange foresaw what was in store for the soulless West. Kubrick just didn't foresee the rising tide of non-white immigration.

To some extent, the West is getting its just desserts. The radical rebellion of the 60s generation lives on as influence, legend, cult. The French and European Left used to look down on Americans as oppressive and 'racist'. They thought American race problems were due to slavery and discrimination. They thought they could do much better with more human policies toward immigrants. Well, well, from Sweden to Norway to Holland to Denmark to France, it's the same shit!!!

The 68 Generation of European radicals saw itself as the vanguard of World Revolution which each member playing a kind of Che Guevara role to lead the Third World masses.
One problem: the Third World masses now in white countries don't give a shit about reading Marx, Sartre, or Foucault. They are into Rap, Hollywood blockbusters, MacDonalds--as customers and vandals--, burning cars, etc. The ONLY thing the Third World masses got from the European Left was 'gimme gimme gimme more freebie freebie freebie, you damn honkey honkey honkey'.

Goes to show Che was wise in insisting there be no rock music in Cuban Revolution.

Anonymous said...

"But things really got bad with the mix of two elements: Rise in non-white Immigration and Arrival of Rap music."

Well that stuff is terrible, but it hardly says much for the culture that can't fend it off.

You know it's funny, when the French get to talking about French culture they tend to be rather light on the surnames, preferring to talk at large about France and French and Frenchhood. In fact every surname that you just used belonged to a foreigner.

Maybe because if "French culture" is reduced to its component parts, just what do you have to show the world? Yes Moliere was a God but you are rather slow in producing another one. Let's see there's Voltaire (a snot) the Revolution (a half-baked imitation of the American one) Monet (please, more hay!) and...we should not even compare French music to German music, it would be cruel.

French culture is nothing to be ashamed of, certainly, but its peculiar feature seems to be not its high quality, but the self-conscious idolatry of the French language and Frenchness in general. Most people casually assume that their society is the best in the world in every respect, and move on to more important things; if the French did the same, perhaps they would not have a brittle self-identity that must adapt and excuse every foreign importation, and apparently shatter when the import is excessively alien.

Limey Oik said...

IMHO The Class is an excellent film.

The triumph of multiculturalist ideology is less complete in France than in most other Western countries.

As far as I am aware, the French don't have multiculturalism as we do in Britain.

By multiculturalism I mean, I understand the French Government does not collate statistics on religion or ethnicity. Neither does it target ethnic or religious groups for affirmative action type programs. Everyone is French.

Having successfully assimilated European immigrants by immersion in the French language, the French tend to assume that these latest newcomers must eventually wake up and appreciate the inherent superiority of French culture.

Yes.

Its interesting to watch the French experience from Britain as in so many ways we have a considerable amount in common with the French. Both being one time centres of huge global empires, and hey, France is only 22 miles away. But also because in Britain, multiculturalism these days is considered by many to be the culprit for all of Britain's inter-ethnic problems.

But the French don't have multiculturalism, and they have the same problems.

--------

Naivete

Punk was British and mostly white but what an ugly and hideous cultural impact that had on British youths.

I'm from the punk generation, and the supposed influence of punk is mostly a media creation. Apart from owning a couple of pairs of 'jam shoes' and getting my hair cut from shoulder length to collar length in 1977, the influence of punk on attitude and fashion on working class youths was negligible. I knew one punk in my late teens and I was a very sociable bloke.

WRT popular music, yes punk had a huge influence.

I quite liked The Jam. Here is an excerpt from their wiki page:

The Jam had political lyrics, condemning police brutality ("In the City") and expansionist development ("Bricks And Mortar"). However, one of their most openly political songs, "Time For Truth", bemoaned the decline of the British Empire and expressed disparaging sentiments about "Uncle Jimmy" (the Labour Party Prime Minister James Callaghan) in no uncertain terms ("Whatever happened to the great Empire?"). These pro-Empire sentiments and ostentatious displays of the Union Flag began to earn the group the tag of "Conservative".

Kamlesh Thakur said...

If you want large masses of people to appreciate your culture, they have to be as racially/ genetically similar as possible. I believe that the different races have different tendencies in instincts and tastes. That explains why Poles, Italians and Romanians integrated so easily in France without changing the French character much but Algerians and Haitians failed. As far as genetically distant people are concerned only a tiny minority of them are likely to appreciate your culture. I am Indian and I believe the vast majority of Indians are never going to appreciate European/ Western, East Asian, African or Middle Eastern culture. Indeed we are more likely to appreciate Pakistani culture. Culturally Pakistanis are more similar to us than Russians even though as nations Russia is our ally and Pakistan is our enemy. In places like the U.K. an Indian student is more likely to get along with Pakistanis and Bangladeshis than anyone else (we are all desis). Yes Race matters.

David said...

>RAP was a doublewhammy.<

Get with it. It's called "hip-hop" now. Jeez!

>Punk was British and mostly white but what an ugly and hideous cultural impact that had on British youths.<

Hip-hop emerged partly out of punk. Here.

"Furthermore, although rarely credited, Beastie Boys were one of the first groups to identify themselves as 'gangsters', and one of the first popular rap groups to talk about violence, drug and alcohol use, possibly an influence from their time as a hardcore punk group. According to Rolling Stone magazine, their 1986 album 'Licensed to Ill' is filled with enough references to guns, drugs, and empty sex (including the pornographic deployment of a Wiffle-ball bat in "Paul Revere") to qualify as 'a gangsta-rap cornerstone.' In their early underground days, the seminal gangsta rap group N.W.A rapped over Beastie Boys tracks for songs such as 'My Posse' and 'Ill-Legal,' and Beastie Boys' influence can be seen significantly in all of N.W.A's early albums."

The Beastie Boys are not black youths tweaking R&B.

MQ said...

Class Warfare's comment above is brilliant and right on the mark.

Rapois's comment is just another example of middle-aged white guy hysterics about something new. Figures Whiskey would love it.

Kylie said...

This article by Theodore Dalrymple provides a useful context. Lengthy but well worth the time.

http://www.city-journal.org/html/12_4_the_barbarians.html

Anonymous said...

Maybe because if "French culture" is reduced to its component parts, just what do you have to show the world? Yes Moliere was a God but you are rather slow in producing another one. Let's see there's Voltaire (a snot) the Revolution (a half-baked imitation of the American one) Monet (please, more hay!) and...we should not even compare French music to German music, it would be cruel.

French cuisine, french cheese, french wine [obviously].

France owned serious music in the timeframe 1895-1925 [Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Satie, etc].

And they weren't doing too badly prior to that [Chopin, Berlioz, St Saens, Bizet, etc].

And, with a handful of exceptions [Riemann, Hamilton, Hilbert], from about 1800 onwards, France is mathematics [Lagrange, Cauchy, Poincare, Hadamard, Lebesgue, etc etc etc].

PS: Yes, I know that Chopin was born in Poland and that Lagrange was born in Italy.

ricpic said...

What a nightmare it is when students are in any way whatsoever proactive, to use the modern bullshit term for students acting as though they are peers of their teacher and therefore are entitled to engage him in a back and forth, as equals no less.

The entire nightmare of modernity boils down to the unrelenting attack on hierarchy/authority.

Naivete said...

Goes to show Che was wise in insisting there be no rock music in Cuban Revolution.

Btw, I'm not condoning censorship per se. What I mean is IF white leftists expect the people-of-color to respect & obey them, THEN they must restrict freedom for the people-of-color. Many blacks in Cuba still respect the Castro regime but only because Cuba has been a communist police state where generations of black kids were raised with Marxist dogma. Progressives say Cuban blacks support the Castro regime because the revolution improved living conditions, but this is bogus. Blacks(even poor ones)in America and France enjoy far more freedom, eat much better, own more luxuries, have more opportunities and more political power YET are many times more bitter than Cuban blacks are. The difference is blacks in the US and France are free to form their own consciousness whereas every black Cuban must think as the state dictates. If a black Cuban gets out of hand, the police swiftly deals with him. No ACLU to defend him, no media to turn him into Rodney King, no autonomous black political power to champion him.

The impression that Cuba(though poor)is a happy place for blacks and mixed-blood people because of progressive values is an illusion Cuba is relatively peaceful because it's a police state without freedom. Cubans are only allowed to think and do as the state tells them. FORCE is the crucial reason as to why Cuba is 'happy and orderly'.
Similar with the Eastern Bloc. During the Cold War, leftists hoped that the Warsaw Pact nations and the USSR had gone beyond avatistic nationalism and were part of one big progressive family. But, the vast communist brotherhood could only be maintained by coercion. Once freedom was allowed into the system by Gorby, the whole thing fell apart. Poland and Hungary sought independence from Moscow. Yugoslavia broke up into various pieces. Czechs and Slovaks went separate ways. In both the Eastern Bloc and in Cuba, FORCE has been the crucial element.

But, naive Western leftists seem to think they can control society by progressive ideas and values alone in a FREE society. They think they can win through reasoned debate and persuasion. But, reality is otherwise. In a state of freedom, most people-of-color kids(especially NAMs)prefer hedonism and wild punkery to intellectualism and knowledge. If they are affected by an element of leftism, it is only a cartoon version that wallows in rage, resentment, violent fantasies, licentiousness-as-liberation, and etc. In other words, blacks prefer Public Enema or Mike Tyson to Karl Marx or Althusser. There are black intellectuals like Cornel West and Dyson, but they are trashy too.

While some people-of-color kids adopt the PASSION of the left(purely for tribal than universalist reasons, btw), rarely do they absorb the IDEAS of the left. Where passion rages, leftism is no match for consumer-capitalism which panders to the erogenous zones of consciousness. Thus, even elements of leftism has been erogenized or sensationalized by corporate capitalism. Few people have read the works of Che but millions have swooned over him as a sexy t-shirt icon. Few have read Das Kapital or even Wretched of the Earth, but millions have watched Matrix Movies--Marx meets Calvin Klein. Thus, even anti-capitalism has been commoditized and marketed. Even anti-capitalist kids are steeped in unruly pop culture and express their views in pop fashion. Obama phenom is a ridiculous blend of capitalism and socialism.

It's somehow fitting that they've come up with an Ipod Vibrator: http://www.ohmibod.com/rw-index.html
Pop music has, for sometime, been little more than mood music for orgasms. From eargams with earphones to orgasms with vaginaphones. I can just see it now: people-of-color and rebellious girls sticking ohmibod vibrators and having orgasms to "Fight the Power". Maybe one can't mix business with pleasure, but you can now mix radical rage with consumerist pleasure.

idealart said...

I'll second Whiskey concerning Rapois. Having lived recently in Paris for several years I came away with similar conclusions on the culture. How long can they hold out?

However, I would like to relate something that happened while I was there that, to me, contradicts what we are saying. When de Villepin attempted to pass a law allowing French businesses to fire new-hires within two years students rioted throughout France, starting at the Sorbonne. The law was directed at Muslim/black immigrants whom businesses are reluctant to hire. But indigenous French youth would lose out. They not only stopped its passage but wrecked de Villepin's career in the process.

I can't imagine students doing any such thing in the States. It would be the equivalent of violently rejecting affirmative action in 1964. So today the French still go out of their way NOT to hire Muslims or blacks.

David Davenport said...

The Beastie Boys are not black youths tweaking R&B.

Yes, the Beastie Boys were Jewish, probably from an upscale background.

More critics' darlings than sales successes, one suspects.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oB0NM6reiRE

The Crass said...

"What a nightmare it is when students are in any way whatsoever proactive, to use the modern bullshit term for students acting as though they are peers of their teacher and therefore are entitled to engage him in a back and forth, as equals no less.
The entire nightmare of modernity boils down to the unrelenting attack on hierarchy/authority."

I noticed this change in pedagogic approach in the late 80s and 90s when I attended college. The older professors stood at the podium and lectured to us. The younger professors tended to sit us all in a circle and have a discussion. There was a clear distinction between teacher and students in the traditional approach whereas the newer approach was more about 'egalitarian'sharing of knowledge.

There is an advantage to both approaches. And, it should be said Graduate Studies have always involved an intimate one-on-one interaction between professor and student rather than a strict hierarchy. But then, graduate students are expected to know enough to be on near-equal terms with the professor.

With undergraduate students, there is a clear asymmetry in knowledge between them and their professors; therefore, the whole egalitarian thing is a kind of ruse and put-on. It can also be an attempt on the part of the professor--or progressive highschool teacher--to radicalize the students by creating a mood of 'we are in this together against the MAN and HIERARCHY.' In truth, the 'egalitarian' approach tends to encourage not independent thought and individuality but group pressure and group think. It becomes like one of those 60s sit-ins. Though the professor may encourage all to express their views, he or she tends to hog the debate with the backing of teacher's pet shitters. Also, through closer camaraderie between teacher and student, the student becomes emotionally more attached to the 'hip' 'progressive' and 'cool' teacher.

Even so, most college students at decent universities are well-behaved and have modicum of respect for their professors. So, the egalitarian approach doesn't necessarily lead to anarchy, violence, or craziness. It can lead to lively if generally PC discussion and debate. College students FREELY CHOSE higher education to learn more; they are not like idiot highschool students who attend school because it's compulsory.

When the egalitarian approach is applied to pre-college levels of education where kids are ill-behaved than intellectual(and have little or no respect for knowledge and teachers), then it's a recipe for disaster.

If all the kids in The Class were like the smart kid or the Chinese kid, the egalitarian class approach or structure might work. The students might use their freedom and power to engage more with the teacher and offer their own ideas. But, A LOT of highschool kids--especially in troubled communities--have NO interest in knowledge. Offering them freedom and equality is like letting kids play with fire.

For there to be Life of the mind, there first has to be Discipline of the buttocks. Butts have to be habituated to sit still and respect some degree of authority. Kids must gradually be elevated toward higher forms of freedom(based on self-discipline and knowledge) than be offered freedom when they've barely developed manners or social skills. There's a difference between teaching Boy Scouts how to make fire with sticks and letting kids play with matches.

Free form education works with students who are motivated, disciplined, and ready to go. It never works with a bunch of lazy and rude tards.

Anonymous said...

The Beastie Boys are not black youths tweaking R&B.

Indeed not, all three of them come from a rather more, how shall we say it, Scots-Irish background.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you gave away the ending. You should have added "spoiler alert".

Truth said...

"ndeed not, all three of them come from a rather more, how shall we say it, Scots-Irish background."

Now I aint' the smartest fella in the world, but I could swear that was a jab to Whiskey's nerts!

Anonymous said...

I am coining a phrase for you right now: The Putnam Effect. Take it and run with it.

cryofan

idealart said...

Another interesting thing the French do which seems to sum up Western schizophrenia. In Paris every arrondissement must contain a certain percentage of blacks or Muslims. This is the law. However, there is another law which stipulates that each arrondissement can pay a fine rather than comply. So, the wealthy arrondissements can have their cake and it too. They can pat themselves on the back and say they are tolerant, the state has made them virtuous, while at the same time they can avoid the consequences of irresponsible state policy (if they are rich enough).

bollywood ending said...

Steve, you gave away the ending. You should have added "spoiler alert".

Not to worry. The movie doesn't really have a 'beginning' nor 'ending'. There's just a continuing sense of 'life goes on'.

Anonymous said...

The Crass:
Free form education works with students who are motivated, disciplined, and ready to go. It never works with a bunch of lazy and rude tards.

I wonder if some of the free-form advocates were themselves good smart students too naive to know that not everyone is like that.

Anonymous said...

Marin tries to get the class to read The Diary of Anne Frank instead (which, in “Freedom Writers,” turns teacher Erin Gruwell’s slum students into prodigies of literary creativity), but it mostly annoys Marin’s heavily Muslim class.

What's the use of more Holocaust guilt trips for kids?

I am not a Holocaust denier, and I do respect great literature - but the Holocaust has been done to death by the media and educators, and usually used as anti-white-male propaganda anyway.

Why not Yar Slavuytch instead of Anne Frank? Or if these boring old honkies are no longer "relevant",
why not literature about the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur?

Anonymous said...

(Cliff Arroyo)

"They constantly monitor whether they are being disrespected, so they can get off task."

No one else has pointed out this, so I will. African cultures (north and sub-saharan) tend to be very hierarchical and there's no way a student in any of the countries can confront a teacher without getting a smackdown (verbal or physical) from the teacher and/or other students (hierarchies only last when people at the bottom maintain them and in those cultures, they do).

This means their behavior is an open and unambiguous rejection of their native cultures. Since they haven't accepted French culture as anything they want to be a part of and have no coherent worldview about ..... anything, this makes them rudderless nihilists.

rob said...

Or if these boring old honkies are no longer "relevant",
why not literature about the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur?


The common perception of the Rwandan genocide is it was whites' fault because we didn't stop the blacks from hacking each other up. Additionally it was Belgium's fault for noticing that Hutus and Tutsis were different. Even though they weren't different, funny how that works. One would almost think that liberals didn't think blacks were capable of doing stuff without whites guiding them.

Le Mur said...

There are three things that "the media" (popular news or entertainment) very consistently lie about:
- Race
- Feminism
- Education

Here's a couple of recent examples (the last couple of days) of the last -
++

http://www.city-journal.org/2010/bc0128ac.html
"When Chavis took over the American Indian Public Charter School in 2000, it was the worst-performing middle school in Oakland. Within seven years, it was the fourth-highest ranking middle school in the entire state of California. The other top-scoring schools are overwhelmingly wealthy and white; Chavis’s former students at AIPCS (he recently retired as principal) are low-income and mostly black, Hispanic, or American Indian."

The school does rate a "10", but 53% of the students are Chinese.
http://www.greatschools.org/cgi-bin/ca/other/185#students

+++

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/Manhattan-Moment/Obama_s-education-rhetoric-doesn_t-come-close-to-reality-83382377.html
"How do we know that the D.C. voucher program works? Take a look at the rigorously designed studies released by the Obama administration itself."
(Without pointing to the actual study, of course, he makes some claims, but...)

http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20074009/
"Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impacts After One Year, contains the following key findings:
* No evidence of a statistically significant difference in test scores between students who were offered an OSP scholarship and students who were not offered a scholarship."

Anonymous said...

Rob:

One would almost think that liberals didn't think blacks were capable of doing stuff without whites guiding them

That includes the bad stuff as well as the good.

David said...

Rob said

>Hutus and Tutsis [...] weren't different<

On the contrary, physical, cultural, and political differences between Tutsis and Hutus do appear to exist. Traditionally Tutsis were tall cattlemen and Hutus were short farmers. Tutsis were a conquering minority, Hutus a farmed majority. After colonial rule (which tended to support the Tutsi elite) was yanked from Rwanda, the Hutus slaughtered Tutsis with a nightmarishly extreme "World on Fire" zeal. Tutsis returned the favor and thus the recent cycle of violence.

Jerry said...

Where is my comment? Steve, are you outsourcing Komment Kontrol to your little nephews or something?

Anonymous said...

"Where is my comment? Steve, are you outsourcing Komment Kontrol to your little nephews or something?"

That would actually be ideal since kids are less discriminating.

AmericanGoy said...

"After he is expelled, the classroom atmosphere improves."

This is key.

I've seen it first hand how one piece of s**t can ruin a whole class, and the class go from mostly bored morons and a few students paying attention to watching your back in fear of your life.


So what if the morons don't learn?

Either they are too stupid or they don't want to.

Tough.

If you are not interested, sit there or drop out.

AmericanGoy said...

By the by, if you're an American soldier, and you have not read Larteguy's Centurions and Praetorians, what the f**k is your problem?

Also, read Bodard's The Quicksand War.


In fact, every American should read the last one.

Reading Bernard B. Fall is NOT enough.

AmericanGoy said...

"And they weren't doing too badly prior to that [Chopin, Berlioz, St Saens, Bizet, etc]."

Sir, I would like to you speak to a few million poles.

All of whom, ages 5 to 80, would like to kick the everliving snot out of you.

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