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Schools In America And France: Yay School!

1699 words - 7 pages

Throughout popular culture, there are many representations of school systems and inner city life. Laurent Cantet's film, Entre les murs (The Class), presents a view of the school system in France. Entre les murs is based on the memoirs of François Bégaudeau, a teacher in the French suburbs. While Entre les murs deals with poorer, suburban schooling in France, one chapter in David Simon and Edward Burns' book, The Corner, discusses schooling in the Baltimore inner-city. These two representations have many similarities and demonstrate the universality of schooling problems. Both also show attempts by governments to improve the situations within inner cities.

Entre les murs presents a view into a French classroom through the memoirs of François Bégadeau, a teacher who plays M Marin. Laurent Cantet tried to make Entre les murs as true to the situation of schooling in the “banlieues” (suburbs) of Paris through his construction of the film. The students chosen for the film were selected through an acting program started by Cantet at the Françoise-Dolto Middle School (Rice 28). The use of real students allows for realistic interactions between the students and the teacher. Another way Cantet replicated the schooling situation in the suburbs is through the scripting. Cantet did not choose to script many of the student's lines; therefore, their responses to the classroom discussions are mostly improvised (Rice 28). Through not requiring the students to memorize their lines, the feeling of a real classroom is constructed.

The schooling system in France is set up similarly to the school system in the United States. In both systems, there are primary schools, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and colleges. One difference between schooling in France and in the United States is the fact that all levels of schooling in France, including college, are free provided the student attends a public school or a private school that receives monetary aid from the state. Schools in France are also regulated by the national government. Therefore, the subjects taught at the schools in France are the same; however, the level of study of the subjects depends on the students in the class and the teachers. On the other hand, the American school system is funded through property taxes. Consequently, school districts in wealthier neighborhoods or regions receive more money while the schools in poorer neighborhoods receive much less.

To make up for the disparity in funding between school districts, some American cities proposed programs to improve test scores and student education in disadvantaged areas. One such program written about in The Shame of the Nation is the Higher Horizons program in New York City. This program attempted to improve the education and cultural awareness of its students through various initiatives. This program's ingredients “were 'more and better teachers and—more money'” (Kozol 188). Unfortunately, the...

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