French school debates of recent years, which are simultaneously
debates about the French Republic's identity and values, have
generated a spate of internationally successful literature and film
on the topic of education. While mainstream media and scholarly
essays tend to treat these works as faithful representations of
classroom reality, "The Pedagogical Imagination" takes a different
In this study of French education and republicanism as represented
in twenty-first-century French literature and film, Leon Sachs
shifts our attention from "what" literature and film say about
education to "how" they say it. He argues that the most important
literary and filmic treatments of French education in recent
years--the works of Agnes Varda, Erik Orsenna, Abdellatif Kechiche,
Francois Begaudeau--do more than merely depict the present-day
school crisis. They explore questions of education through
experiments with form.
"The Pedagogical Imagination" shows how such techniques engage
present-day readers and viewers in acts of interpretation that
reproduce pedagogical principles of active, experiential
learning--principles at the core of late nineteenth-century
educational reform that became vehicles for the diffusion of
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