The last chapter of Steve McQueen’s enthralling anthology teaches you about the racism in school.
“Education” is the last film of Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” series on Amazon Prime. It fights against a broken school system, one that follows a policy that black students can’t get the education they deserve. It’s about expressing yourself about that turmoil, and standing up for what you believe in.
I know this is a completely different topic, but I was still reminded about how my mother had to use her words to get the education I needed, given my autism. She never succumbed to any of the schools’ downsides, and made sure I graduated with honors. I think “Education” is essential for mothers of all races and perspectives.
We meet 12-year-old Kingsley (Kenyah Sandy from “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”), who aspires to become an astronaut. His illiteracy sends him to a special school, much to his anger, and his busy mother’s (Sharlene Whyte) fury. There’s a difference, because the mom has a strict attitude. So, far, Kingsley is not enjoying his school. He doesn’t even know if he can call it a school, because of how the other kids act like animals and the teachers are unreliable and irresponsible.
Then comes the kind and strong-willed psychiatrist Hazel (Naomi Ackie from “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”), who finds Kingsley’s unsupervised classroom. The mother is also visited by a woman named Lydia (Josette Simon), who runs an organization dedicated to fighting against broken school systems. Hazel is also from the organization. That’s when you realize the mother is not as mean as described during the first half of the film, especially when she coddles her son for his reading disability.
“Education,” like the last 3 chapters, could have gone on longer, so we can see more of the education system and its main student, but like the whole “Small Axe” series, McQueen delivers on the social topics with a strong sense of reality. He closes off the mini-series very well by expressing his views on this topic, instead of the police or other cultures in London. And the performances from Sandy, Whyte, Ackie, and Simon are all excellent in the ways they use their words and express the truth about what is really going on.
Racism is everywhere. You don’t need to say it; it’s so obvious, given the circumstances. And I’m glad we live in a century when there are those willing to fight back. This one resorts to no violence, but choses to use its words wisely. Don’t blame the children for their illiteracy; blame the school system for failing them. And praise the people who actually want to help, regardless of race, gender, and disabilities.
“Education” is a worthy conclusion to the anthology.
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