“The school is ours”, Virginia’s realistic utopia

The school is ours **

by Alexandre Castagnetti

French film, 1 h 43

The daily life of colleges and high schools continues to flood our screens, with recently the bittersweet comedy The Court of Miracles by Carine May and Hakim Zouhani and the documentary A good start by Xabi and Agnès Molia. Their common denominator is to show the difficulties of pupils from underprivileged backgrounds and the commitment of determined teachers, despite the lack of means. As such, The school is ours don’t deviate.

After a two-year hiatus, Virginie Thévenot, a mathematics teacher, is returning to a college planted in the middle of a housing estate. Without being disconcerted by unexpected interventions, she immediately confuses her students with a question where not everyone has the same questions. Therefore, they will not be scored: “I put 18 to everyone and then we get down to business. » His colleagues and the headteacher warmly welcome this initiative.

An event temporarily closes this heated debate: teachers go on strike to protest against their working conditions and the closing of classes. Virginie then offers to animate a permanence which soon welcomes college students who have only the street to spend their days like good students whose parents are worried about a delay in the program. Here again, the math teacher confuses, by proposing that everyone does what they want, school work or other.

Advocacy for a school supporting individual development

From a familiar frame, The school is ours takes an unexpected turn towards utopia, transforming a college into a laboratory of joyful experiences. Invited to freedom, most students confine themselves to the agreed paths of homework or browsing on the laptop. It will take the energetic encouragement of Virginie for them to finally affirm their tastes and their desires. Contrary to family and social norms, they reveal their intellectual curiosity, their skills in technology, cooking, gardening, etc.

The screenplay is careful not to portray everyone as an unwitting genius – in the total autonomy offered, some will not come out of their character as jaded teenagers who are uninterested. But on the soil of freedom spread by Virginie a fruitful seed blooms in many. Sprinkled with stimulating quotes from Einstein, the film draws inspiration from real experiences to nurture this realistic utopia, without silencing resistance from the teaching team and parents.

An invigorating plea for a school able to support individual choices and development, carried by the interpretation of Sarah Suco, whose spontaneity echoes the interpretations of these adolescents in search of themselves.

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