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Lessons in Adaptation: The Postcolonial Classroom in Entre les murs and L’Esquive

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTranspositions
Subtitle of host publicationMigration, Translation, Music
EditorsAlison Rice
PublisherLiverpool University Press
Chapter8
Pages161-189
ISBN (Print)978-1-789-62111-2
Accepted/In press2021

King's Authors

Abstract

Current debates over decolonizing the curriculum raise questions about the "fit" between diverse student bodies and what is taught in the postcolonial classroom. This essay explores that issue through two acclaimed films focusing on the educational experiences of students from migrant backgrounds: Abdellatif Kechiche's L’Esquive/Games of Love and Chance (2003) and Laurent Cantet's Entre les murs/The Class (2008). It begins by noting that whereas colonial education was often characterized by a shocking disregard for the backgrounds and identities of students in, say, the Maghreb or West Africa, "adaptation"—meaning the tailoring of the curriculum to students from non-European backgrounds—could also be a reactionary policy, favoured by some colonial educationalists. That history serves as a starting point not to undermine the "decolonial" project in education, but to emphasize the complexities of the political and educational issues with which it engages. Looking particularly at "French lessons" and literary education, the essay explores what can be learned from these films, which show different teachers and students—and filmmakers—responding in very different ways to a traditional French curriculum.

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