Friday Dialogue from
Your Two Favorite Educators
As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit discuss the role of documentaries in the classroom, Michael Moore and unfortunately Justin Bieber.
1. What is the greatest obstacle to using documentaries in the classroom?
Emily: I don’t know about your school, but one problem I would definitely encounter is getting them approved. While I know there are good documentaries from years ago, one asset of the documentary is to provide timely and interesting material. Unfortunately for my students, my district has a one-year acquisition policy, which means I need to know 1.5 years ahead of time what I’m going to teach. This limits the incorporation of meaningful and timely documentaries for my students.
Aubrey: Quick approval is a problem but we don’t have to wait a year. I could see where that could be both difficult and disappointing. I have to wait more along the lines of 3-4 months. It is important with documentaries to be able to show them in a timely fashion. They do need to be treated in the same way we treat current events.
2. What is your favorite documentary?
Emily: It certainly isn’t Food Inc. or any documentary about the food service. Those documentaries make me rethink my Arby’s addiction and I don’t want anything to get in between me and my Arby’s. I do really like Inside Job. I think the material is insightful but still accessible. Plus, I really like Matt Damon’s narrative voice.
Aubrey: Roger & Me. My whole family is from Michigan, so when that movie came out it was all my dad could talk about. Sure, I’ve seen lots of other documentaries that I’ve really liked including Mad Hot Ballroom, Born into Brothels and Food Inc. None of them will ever usurp Roger & Me. Michigan is Michigan and old school Michael Moore is the best.
3. If you could make any documentary what would it be about? Keep in mind that Arby’s is off limits.
Emily: Well, Arby’s would make a great subject. But, in all seriousness, I’d like to see a documentary made about the reality of teaching. While I find Waiting for Superman and Race to Nowhere really eye-opening to the general public, they have a very clear agenda, which I don’t fault. If anything, I appreciate the awareness drawn to critical issues in education; however, I think they are often so narrow and focused that the full picture isn’t actually presented. I’d like to see a documentary about the real life of an English teacher because my life is awesome. Working 15 hour days and all weekend is amazing.
Aubrey: I think the documentary American Teacher is a step in the right direction but I often wonder if something like this documentary makes a difference. I’m not sure any schools locally have screened this film, whereas I know Race to Nowhere and Waiting for Superman were screened in a variety of schools and districts where I live and teach.
4. Do you qualify Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never as a documentary of merit?
Emily: Are you kidding me? Of course it is. So is Glee: The Concert. Those pieces show real life and inspire Americans to be all they can be. Okay, teasing aside, yeah, I think they are of merit but remember that i have Bieiber fever, so I’m biased.
Aubrey: Okay. All of what you have said is so clearly and unmistakably wrong that even though I wrote that question I refuse to respond. Gross. Being all you can be never works out. Don’t you teach American literature?