Katherine Romeo ’18
Project Title – I Just Wanna Break the Rules: Idealism in the Filmic Representation of the French Education System
Other Student Participants – Kristen Nooney ’18, Claudio D’ambrosio ’19
Mentor – Ana Oancea
Our paper discusses the representation key precepts of the French educational system in fictional and documentary film. For identifying these ideas, we review a wide variety of publications (both online and in print) in which the Ministry of Education presents their work to the public. We also survey materials designed for French teacher training and qualifying exams, which also promote these values. In particular, we are interested in the ways in which the French educational system focuses on achieving uniformity in student development. Repeatedly, we see the student imagined—dictated by genre conventions—as a ‘professional’ rather than a still developing human being with feelings and problems. We consider whether this idea of the student leaves enough room for creativity or individuality, and also look at cases in which students face difficult home situations that prevent them from conforming. Moreover we consider the stylistic guidelines and their efficacy in portraying the French educational system. In developing this argument, we will also use Althüsser’s writings on the school as ideological and state apparatus, and discuss films including Barratier’s Les Choristes, Cantet’s Entre les murs, Lilenfeld’s La journee de la jupe, and Eugene Ionesco’s play La Lecon.