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November 02, 2010 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2010-11-02

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8A - Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Keeping count ofyour
Kodak moments

ince the beginning of the
school year, my friend
Elana has been bugging
me - relentlessly - about the
dearth of photos of us on Face-
book. Recently,
my roommate
Kelsey has
joined in the
Despite their
insistence that
we need to
"document our LEAH
friendship," BURGIN
I've been put-
ting them off
(somewhat successfully) for a
My relationship with photog-
raphy is weird. As a medium, I
love photography. I appreciate
the technical aspects that go into
creating an image. In high school,
I took an intro to photography
class. I learned how to load film
into an SLR camera and develop
pictures in a darkroom. We also
dabbled in digital SLR cameras,
which would seem less difficult
but nonetheless require some
essential "know-how" - you still
have to understand the way light
can be manipulated.
And I appreciate the power
that photography can have. When
I was in Washington D.C. last
year, I visited the Newseum, a
fantastic museum dedicated to
the history of journalism. One of
the exhibits displayed a collec-
tion of Pulitzer Prize-winning
photographs. My family and
I spent a large chunk of time
wandering through the gallery,
and I was shocked at the emo-
tions I felt looking at some of the
images. Maybe it was the scale
of the prints (many were HUGE)
and the concentration of all these
famous photographs that made
the experience so intense, butI
walked out of that gallery affect-
ed. It's weird for me to think that
a representation of something can
have the same effect on me as a

Yet, d
for phot
issues w
my first
when I'
school a
for the f
them do
"Self, w
front of
pid tour
take go(
shots th
But t
my trip
took mo
tures ds
were in
in front
of her a
face. An
the exa
ways! 0
hair thi
one wit
It bothe
out of r
and, ins
tiple du
It ma
to me. I
every si
ence. ER
can beu
and tha
raphy ft
was cre,

e, 3-D object. she didn't have. Her European
lespite all this appreciation experience was taking pictures of
:ography, I still have some herself in front of famous things.
rith it. My parents gave me And that's really sad.
non-disposable camera So, getting back to my friends
was a sophomore in high and their insistence that we
bout to travel to Europe need to "document" our friend-
irst time. At first, I turned ship. My retaliation was always,
wn. I thought to myself, "We are friends. Let's just be
hat could I possibly use a friends. Why do we need to
for? I'd rather not pose in document that? We know it's
every noteworthy thing in happening and we'll remember
I don't want to be a stu- the good things for a while." I
ist." But I'm glad I finally was wary that "documenting
A the camera. It was fun to our friendship" would turn into
ofy pictures of me and my taking-pictures-of-us-every-
and I took some beautiful single-time-we-go-out-or-do-
at wouldn't be found on anything-equally-insignificant
ds. - a Facebook-fueled epidemic. I
here was this one girl on had seen the dark side of photog-
(there's always one) who raphy, and in no way did I want
re than a thousand pic- something super important to
iring the seven days we me to be compromised. I did not
Europe. She would stand want my friendships to be turned
of the Eiffel Tower, for into a false experience.
e, hold the camera in front So I avoided it. Looking back,
I missed documenting some
important events. There are no
pictures from my birthday last
will break year or my first day of classes as a
freshman. With my friends' nag-
)ur camera. ging in mind, as well as a bit of
my own regret, I reconsidered my
annoyance with photography for
nd snap a picture of her this year's Halloween festivities.
id then, she would take I volunteered to take pictures of
ct same picture different me and my friends in our cos-
ne smiling, one with her tumes. And I have to say, it wasn't
s way, one straight-faced, the awful experience I had been
h her hair that way, etc. dreading. I realized something
red me. She even ran that I knew all along - there is a
oom on a memory card balance. It doesn't have to be pho-
tead of deleting the mul- tography or no photography. You
plicates, spent an entire can still experience something
g searching for another even while taking two seconds to
y card. snap a shot.
de absolutely no sense Too bad I forgot the camera
would rather experience cord at home and can't download
than try to document the pics to my computer. Have
ngle facet of my experi- fun waiting for the memories,
verything in this world Elana and Kelsey!

She sees 32 colors. He sees 32 flavors.
e documentary of steel

Guggenheim explores
the ills of the public
education system,
Daily Arts Writer
We've heard it from count-
less politicians: Public education
in America is
a disgrace. Yet
most of us don't
understand Waitingfor
exactly what's S r
wrong with it.
Filmmaker At the Michigan
Davis Guggen- Paramount Vintage
heim ("An Incon-
venient Truth")
delves deeper than political rhetoric
and begins to explore our ruined
education system in the documen-
tary "Waiting for'Superman'."
The film is an overwhelming suc-
cess. While it can't address all the
complexities and failures of pub-
lic education in a little under two
hours, it gives a solid introduction.
Guggenheim provides astound-
ing statistics, demonstrating just
how dire the situation is. It's unbe-
lievable, for instance, that only 12

percent of eighth graders in Wash-
ington D.C. read at a proficient
level. or that among 30 developed
countries, American students rank
21st in science and 25th in math.
The film features inspiring edu-
cation reformers and activists who
show us that change is possible,
but not without great difficulty.
Michelle Rhee, the recently resigned
chancellor of the D.C. public school
system, is faced with obstacles, like
her inability to fire bad teachers with
tenure. Geoffrey Canada, founder of
several successful charter schools,
shows that students from impover-
ished urban areas can achieve high
marks, provided they have the right
But Guggenheim's choice to
focus on the stories of children
struggling to get a decent education
proves tobe the most effective way
of getting his point across.
Guggenheim is no novice; he rec-
ognizes that individual stories are
much more likely to pull at heart-
strings than statistics. We feel for
Daisy, a fifth grader in Los Angeles
with big dreams of becoming a doc-
tor. If forced to go to a failing mid-
dle school, Daisy most likely will
never achieve those goals. We feel
for Francisco, a first grader attend-

ing public school in the Bronx, who
goes to a private reading tutor due
to the lack of attention he gets in
school. Guggenheim features three
other children whose families
share the discontent with the public
school system. Each of these fami-
lies hope to enroll their children in a
successful charter school, yet their
fate will be decided by a lottery.
While the tales of these chil-
dren may be dramatic, it's their
truth that makes them both heart-
breaking and compelling. We get
the sense that Guggenheim didn't
have to dig too hard to uncover
these stories. It's this blatant, pure
truth, this lack of sensationalism,
that gives the film its strength. It's
certainly not like Michael Moore's
documentaries, which, though they
focus on pertinent issues, feel a bit
contrived. Moore goes to exhaust-
ing measures to get the answers he
wants out of people and ultimately
prove his point. With Guggenheim,
the whole process feels natural.
The documentary's sole weak-
ness is minute - "Waiting for
'Superman' " depicts charter
schools as flawless. It does causally
mention that many charter schools
offer as bad of an education as reg-
ular public schools, yet it should
have made this point clearer and
more prominent. Also, the film ide-
ally should have focused on other
types of effective schools - per-
haps one of the renowned magnet
schools in New York. Or a public
school that transcends conflicting
federal and state education policy,
or one with an abundance of com-
mitted teachers.
Nevertheless, "Waiting for
'Superman' " is a film that every
American citizen should see. It
inspires us all to step into the role
of "Superman," campaigning for
change and saving future genera-
tions from poor education.

ised for good or for evil,
it girl was using photog-
sr evil. She wasn't "docu-
g" her experience, she
ating an experience that

Burgin is trying to pick her
MySpace profile pic. To tell
her MySpace sucks, e-mail


E-mail join.arts@umich.edu for information on applying.



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