February 2004. Luca, Marvin, Natalie, Dennis, Johanna, Christian and 15 other children meet at the beginning of the semester at the Fläming School in Berlin. They belong to class 5d – the school’s inclusion class – in which students learn extremely different skills together. Four of the children are classified as disabled, from learning difficulties to severely disabled, and are not graded. The class has two supervisors, some subject teachers and the class teacher, Ms. Haase. It is considered strict but fair. Her great love is the theater.

A play is being rehearsed, but who is playing the main role? The children prepare presentations in extremely heterogeneous working groups. But I learn faster on my own, says one person, and I notice how difficult it is to pass on your lead to others. School is not fun every day. Homework is forgotten, tears are shed after the unjust exam. Dictation means stress, and I’d rather not sit next to him. During the break, you play “boys catch girls” or jump over a long chain of school bags.

Siegert does not explain a pedagogical concept, but observes the everyday life of eleven-year-olds outside of the usual segregation in grammar school, secondary school, secondary school and special school with great attention and compassion, without sentimental glorification or pedagogical index finger: No PISA debate but an exciting and moving adventure full of passions, happy moments and catastrophes, aha experiences, expectations and insights. In the loving closeness to its protagonists, CLASS LIFE opens up a strangely forgotten world that is completely different, completely present. 

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“I think education has to do with everything: bribery, blackmail, yelling and being kind. The latter is necessary, so that the children do not hate the teachers.”
Dennis, 12 , student

Perhaps one should first learn to ignore people who bawl behind their backs or grimace and not to let others bother them.”
Luca, 12 , student