By Gabriell Brener, Bachelor of Educational Sciences (UBA), specialist in Management and Conduct of the Educational System (FLACSO). He was Undersecretary of Education of the Ministry of Education of the Nation (2012-2015). The column was written based on “El suplente”, the last film by Diego Lerman.
Fiction films about schools, more precisely in classrooms, have been, in my opinion, a parade of common places, of stereotypes that contribute to a trivialization of a territory such as the school, which is a challenge for said artistic language. There are very few movies to stand out in this regard. Perhaps some scenes, like the school moment of “Luna de Avellaneda” or the French film L. Cantet, “Between the walls”.
Diego Lerman is an exception. His “(La) Invisible Gaze”, which takes us back to the Buenos Aires national school with the Falklands War in the background and the indelible marks of the dictatorship on adolescent bodies and souls. To tutors hardened by the paradigm of authoritarian discipline in that high school for “not so many”, where Lerman woke us up with a unique filmic sensitivity to catch school subjectivities. And I mention it because that remarkable film is about a book by Martin Kohan (Moral Sciences) and the philosopher appears as an actor in the first scene of this new film.
This time it is “El Suplente”, an interesting approach to high school in these times. He composes a classroom with the faces of the piberío who took over the classrooms of the high school of law in a popular neighborhood. Because high school a little over a decade ago was for everyone, before, as in the previous film by the same director, it was selective and for few. With the faces of these unexpected subjects and with the traces of inequality that do not refer to the public-private dichotomy (true but insufficient to explain the problem of this educational level) but to the abysmal distance that separates Dylan, a kid from this school with the teacher’s daughter (Juan Minujin) who tries to enter an elite public, more because of her father’s desire than her own inclination. Good shortcut to analyze (us) those of us who support the defense of the public, the relationship between Inclusion and quality, but we are avoiding various contradictions. Here a very tempting thread opens up for us to debate and think about, giving rise to uncomfortable controversies, which we must assume and try to digest and resolve.
I got the feeling that some classroom situations are somewhat condescending or too harmonious if we contrast them with what happens in the classroom. It was better defined by a teaching colleague from the schools in the south of Buenos Aires who came to this avant premiere of which I was able to be a part and gave her opinion… softness to show it, she said, or something like that. I like it. Because Lerman, I don’t know if on purpose or because of how difficult his composition is, resists that stigmatizing machinery of the media even more so in the times of Milei Bullrich and Bolsonaros.
As an unfortunate premonition in one scene, the gendarmerie enters the classroom and shows us what is already happening in some schools (last week it happened in CABA in 3 of DE 19 Of course there are very delicate and complex situations, but you have to be very pay attention, because every time and with enough social consensus for some neighborhoods, schools and pibxs it is punishment and for other neighborhoods, schools and pibxs it is reflection.In schools all problems must be solved with a lot of State, democracy, pedagogy, limits, sanction, reflection and reparation. The forces of repression cannot get involved in education problems, whether you look at it with your right hand or with the most conservative on your left side. If not, we are resigning as a democracy, if not, we will be accepting that the education is perverted and assumed as mere instruction, making (as they insist from time to time) some schools a new colimba and others a school that adjusts to the rules of these times and the dep writing.
I also highlight a scene in the teachers’ room, that unique place in schools, a sounding board for the troubles of a complicated and fascinating profession at the same time. A space for sincericides and choked pauses of pain, of frustration but also of colleagues who support and show you that there is always another chance. Dissonant voices of various teachers appear in that scene, there is also cloth to cut and try to mend. As well as some interventions by the director (Rita Cortese) who attest to how difficult it is to sustain the place of school leadership, even more so in times of so much disavowal, with situations of enormous violation, of the lives of the kids, of the abandonment of the State or their bureaucratic presence or mere control, or in circumstances that are linked to drug use, violence or lack of control. There is also a gesture from the director of the film that is associated with the director of the school, when she says something like I believe in what we do, we have to keep trying. Parallel to what happens at school, there is also a community dining room where the father of the teacher, the Chilean, fights, and there is a place to think and claim the collective, solidarity, in times so blatantly selfish and narcissism everywhere. that get us everywhere.
I also zoom in on a conversation between the teacher and a colleague in the humble hut where a student lives, sitting there they try to convince their father and mother so that their daughter does not drop out of school. How valuable when the school goes to the neighborhoods, it drives away prejudices, but it also increases impotence. As valuable as being aware that volunteerism does not relieve the responsibility of the State, which must become the guarantor of the right to school and give more and better resources to the most vulnerable, children, their schools and their directors and teachers.
At one point, it shows as a daily routine going through the gendarmerie to enter the school, and there the teacher with boredom has a brush with a gendarme, as is usual for every kid who circulates at any time and place and what Rodriguez Alzueta defines as the incessant executioner. So, regarding this author that I mention, I underline what happens in the classes of this teacher. For a few moments, as fleeting as withering, these kids exchange that handstand for a word stand, where they connect with poetry and literature, expanding the school horizon and disciplining with popular culture, but especially extending the horizon of what is possible, to get on worlds that seemed forbidden, and then the taking of the bastille in this class is the irruption of the trap. That scene where one of the kids raps moistened my eyes and my hope. In those classes, Dylan and each one of those kids savored writing like a weapon loaded with the future and dreams.
“El suplente” could be a good meeting between teachers to continue debating the school we want. It will be, at least that’s what I will try in my classes, a good reason to get together and continue disputing meanings for high school and our profession. (Telam)