The Kindergarten Teacher

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Because it is human nature to always want to explain everything, there are countless contradictory theories we can fall back on when discussing the idea of talent. Some argue that it is given, others insist it can be developed. Circumstances may help make sense of why Vincent van Gogh adopted the colourful, fantastic style he later became famous for, but he was reviled by those who lived under similar conditions. The most convincing yet unsatisfactory explanation for the existence of talent remains that it simply cannot be explained. It either is, or it is not.

But in Sara Colangelo’s film The Kindergarten Teacher, Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a great educator precisely because she does believe in nurture: her little students are supervised but always free to color outside the lines, make mistakes and say the first word that crosses their minds (within the limits of respectability). But is that easy-going approach developing the kids’ curiosity or simply letting them be children, clumsily getting familiar with the world and with themselves?