This will be a very quick review, but since this documentary made such an impact on me I wanted to mention it as very much worth viewing.
The focus surrounds a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Saint-Étienne-sur-Usson, France. The instructor works with children ranging in age from about three or four to upwards of twelve or so (before the children go to what is there called "middle school"). The actual story is just one of a different type of education and how effective it is. As the days go by, the viewer watches the teacher Georges Lopez (who is half Spanish) instruct the children in the basics of education -- teaching the "little ones" how to write their letters and count (in the film, they're just getting to the number seven), teaching the older students how to complete their math assignments and even make omelets. This is not so much a documentary about a pedagogical style as it is a tale about one group of students in a small, agricultural area of France. The individual attention that the instructor gives each student may or may not make smarter students -- the film doesn't really say -- but it certainly provides each student with a sense of worth and gives the instructor a clear idea of how to assist each student.
Obviously, the documentary is in French, and unless yours is really good I'd recommend getting a copy with subtitles. Mine is sketchy, and I would never have been able to pick up on all the details of the conversations.
My favorite moment in the film: the instructor tells the students that he will be retiring and that he has other things he hopes to do. One of them asks if he'll go to Tahiti, and he says no. After considering it, they all nod in agreement: here is better.
Year of production: 2002