CultureEducationPop Quiz

Pop Quiz – As Seen On TV

Schools and television don’t seem to mix very well. I can’t think of many, if any, TV representations of school life that actually get it “right”. Here in the UK we have an depressingly popular television drama called Waterloo Road which is set in and around a fictional high school. This school seems to be a nexus for drama, crime, intrigue and Shocking Cliffhanger Moments. If even one of the events that takes place in any given episode were to actually seriously happen in a real high school, that school would be on the front page of every national newspaper within a day. It is, to say the least, unrealistic.


Another popular school-based show in the UK was simply called Teachers. This show was on the air when I was doing my teacher training and it was popular viewing for the people on my course. We all kind of assumed that teaching life would be quite a lot like it was shown to be in that series. Those teachers were tough, sexy and witty. They changed lives every day and partied hard every night. They were all young and trendy. It was bollocks.


On the other hand, Australian comedian Chris Lilley’s fantastic Summer Heights High does a wonderful job of exaggerating high school life while still making some fairly poignant points about the types of students we often meet.


Obviously my area of knowledge is high school. I’ve often wondered how people who work in colleges and universities feel about how their institutions are represented on TV and in films. I assume that there’s a relatively similar amount of unrealistic nonsense around, but then again I do remember thinking “HOLY SHIT IT’S JUST LIKE THE MOVIES” when I first started my year as an exchange student at a US college.


How do you feel about how schools and colleges are represented in films and TV shows? Have you ever seen any particularly well-done or realistic examples? Any truly cringe-worthy ones?


The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the afternoon (ET).

Featured Image Credit: Rhys Jordan Taylor



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Alasdair is a high school English teacher in Scotland. He's a passionate skeptic and science fan, which is why he runs a discussion club for young skeptics in his school. He loves space and astronomy more than pretty much anything and is studying for a physics degree in his spare time in order to become qualified to teach science.

He lives with a cat made of distilled hatred and spikes.

1 Comment

  1. May 21, 2014 at 9:10 am —

    LOL!!! If they showed how schools and colleges actually look then no one would watch. I remember a program that was on maybe over ten years ago called “Freaks and Geeks” it was about some kids growing up in the 80’s in Michigan. Most of the show was in their high school. It was the only show that I thought got close to what a high school actually looks, sounds, and feels like (well at least for that decade.) Most of the actors looked like regular teens. They were not necessarily all gorgeous with money and the story lines were pretty typical to real high school drama. The only think that I found humorous was the school counselor was in a lot of scenes throughout the series trying to get students to study harder and go to college. I never remember that ever happening when I was in school.

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