Not Reality. Actuality.
So I hop on the treadmill and start looking for something to watch on TV while I walk fast. I flip through the guide and suddenly find something called “Principal’s Office” on the cable channel TruTV (“Not reality. Actuality.”)
Well, why not? I have 30 minutes of exercise to get through. “Principal’s Office” has four of the next 30-minutes time slots on the channel.
The “actuality” of this show is short vignettes of high school principals dealing with discipline issues one or two students at a time. In the show I watched, there were four different principals in different states dealing with the usual high school violations – skipping class, being disrespectful to teachers, engaging in PDA, etc. Each problem is dealt with in about 3 minutes, and then, out in the hall, the student looks directly into the camera and opines about the fairness of the penalty. Back in his or her office, the principal makes an observation about his or her actions.
Actually, I have to admit that the whole thing was fascinating for 30 minutes. If you’ve done this job, 30 minutes is about all you want to watch. The range of kids is what you’d typically find in high school. Some are glib or sulky until the penalty phase. Then they can’t believe they are actually being suspended. (“Just for wearing sweatpants to school?” one boy protests incredulously.) Some are belligerent. Others are quick to blame somebody else. In short, it is kind of “actuality.”
The principals range from firm and understanding to sarcastic and humorless. My favorite vignette was about a kid who got into trouble with a teacher and came to see the principal for help. She refused to intervene on his behalf, but she offered to rehearse with him what he needed to say to the teacher to whom he’d been disrespectful. I also got a kick out of the low-keyed conversation another principal had with three boys who came to school dressed as gorillas (“There’s nothing in the dress code about gorilla suits,” one kid protested.)
It’s worth a look. Some if it is pretty funny if you haven’t already dealt with it today.