Education—to most of us anyway—is important as it helps us develop our ability to reason. It also allows us to learn about the world through reading and writing which in turn gives us the ability to gain a greater spectrum of knowledge. This is why it’s considered a fundamentally important mission for governments around the world to increase the literacy rates of its citizens, something that contributes the most to the rapid advancement of a country. However, some people consider the traditional way of schooling and teaching a little outdated and according to them what the world needs is not just groups of people who can read and write but also make something creative out of those abilities. That’s how we ended up with some schools that appear to be strange and bizarre at first but in reality are reflections of a more progressive future, such as the School of the Future, which aims to explore ways to better prepare students for success in our digital world and global economy. On the other hand, due to socioeconomic factors such as increasing poverty, there are fewer advanced schools in terms of facilities, such as the Train Platform Schools of India, but which are just as progressive and evolutionary in how they function. But before we say more and ruin it for you, here are 25 Strangely Unique Schools You Won’t Believe Exist.
School are not the only weird things found in education, check out these 25 crazy and obscure scholarships to read even more oddities.
Waldorf education is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. The pedagogy emphasizes the role of the imagination in learning, striving to integrate holistically the intellectual, practical, and artistic development of pupils.
Tiny Tits School
Even though nothing’s really weird when it comes to this school’s agenda or nature, its name gives it a naughty character. Wouldn’t you feel strange saying you graduated from Tiny Tits School? Be honest!
Stratton Mountain School
What would you think if we told you there’s a school that focuses on the Winter Olympics? Apparently, Stratton Mountain School in Stratton, Vermont, defines itself as a “winter sports academy.” And they are serious about it since the school has sent fifty-three students to the Olympics, while ninety have been on national US teams.
Hamburger University was founded in 1961 by Ray Kroc to teach the secrets of McDonald’s to eager minds. The first university is located in Oak Brook, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago, but it has since spread to Tokyo, London, Sydney and Shanghai. And before you laugh about the whole thing keep in mind that getting into Harvard is currently easier than in McDonald’s University in China, since less than one percent of the applicants will eventually be accepted there.
Play Mountain Place
Play Mountain Place is a child-centered, humanistic, progressive, alternative, experiential, play-based preschool and elementary school located in Los Angeles. For over sixty-five years, children have been encouraged to discover the joys of learning through their own interest, at their own pace, all while being supported by the deepest respect for their dignity and worth. It’s all about self-motivation in this school while programming and standard lessons (history, math, and grammar) have a secondary role.
Naropa University is a private liberal arts college in Boulder, Colorado. Founded in 1974 by the Tibetan Buddhist Chögyam Trungpa, it is named for the eleventh-century Indian Buddhist sage Naropa, an abbot of Nalanda. Naropa promotes nontraditional activities like meditation to supplement traditional learning approaches.
Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment
Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment is an independent college preparatory school located in Fairfield, Iowa. The school has an open admissions policy and its curriculum includes the practice of transcendental meditation as well as traditional academic subjects and a course in the science of creative intelligence. Despite being an unusual school, its students have received numerous awards in state, national, and international competitions for science, the arts, creativity, and athletics, with the boys’ tennis team winning multiple national titles.
Harvey Milk High School
The Harvey Milk High School is a public high school in the East Village of New York City designed for, though not limited to, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth, as well as those questioning their sexuality. It is named after San Francisco, California, supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to office.
Gulu Elementary School
Gulu is a remote Chinese mountain village located in a national park filled with canyons, precipices, and overhanging rocks. The village’s primary school is probably the most remote in the world. Lying halfway up a mountain, it takes five hours to climb from the base to the school.
A forest kindergarten is a type of preschool for children between ages three and six that is held almost exclusively outdoors. Whatever the weather, children are encouraged to play, explore, and learn in a forest or natural environment. They are also known as Waldkindergarten in Germany where they are quite popular.
In Southern California there’s a school that offers adventure, creativity, and fun to kids. It allows each child to take the lead in his or her learning experiences and to enhance those experiences. The school provides rich learning opportunities in the form of an inspiring environment, access to interesting materials, varied classes, and plentiful field trips—all tied together with exciting themes. Sounds like fun!
Burgess Hill School
This experimental UK based school that was found back in the rebellious sixties definitely deserves a mention since it was one of the most “progressive” schools worldwide, especially if one takes into account how strict British life was back then. This school allowed its students to do pretty much whatever they wanted. Fancy a cigarette during class? No problem. Plow through the school grounds on a motorbike? Ditto.
Brooklyn Free School
Brooklyn Free School’s mission is education geared toward social justice. It engages students and staff in democratic decision making and problem solving. The school has no grades, no tests, and no compulsory classes or homework. Furthermore, students are free to leave classes as they please.
Awakening Seed School
Founded in a Phoenix, Arizona, garage in 1977, Awakening Seed wants children of all races, cultures, religions, and ethnic backgrounds to be honored for who they truly are (whatever that means). The school, which runs from preschool to fifth grade, bans artificial juices and Lunchables, and their mission statement includes the line “world peace is possible.” In other words, and without trying to be funny here, it could easily be called the “Hippie School”.
Abo Elementary School
Abo Elementary School in Artesia, New Mexico, is located about forty miles south of Roswell and was part of a pilot program in the 1960s. The Office of Civil Defense wanted to see if schools could make good public shelters, and they paid a portion of the total cost of the school. That’s how we ended up with the first underground elementary school that doubled as an advanced Cold War fallout shelter.
Walt Disney Elementary
In the mid-1950s, some children—who apparently loved Disney films way too much—at the public elementary school in Levittown, Pennsylvania, were given the opportunity to name their school after a public figure. When Disney found out about this honor, he decided to send artists to decorate the school. Half a century later this school is still “all things Disney,” with classrooms and hallways devoted to Disney characters.
School of the Future
The Philadelphia School of the Future aims to explore ways to better prepare students for success in our digital world and global economy. They accomplish this by forgoing text books and instead applying technological tools such as computers for students, OneNote for note taking, and computerized smart boards for teachers. They even have digital lockers that uses a student’s ID card as a key.
Zhongdong Cave School
Guizhou is one of the poorest provinces in China. Water and food shortages due to massive desertification and drought have left the region often struggling to keep its people alive. Despite these shortcomings, the Miao people of southern Guizhou made the best of their situation by opening an elementary school in a cave, aptly named Mid-Cave Primary School. The school opened in 1984, and at its peak employed eight teachers who taught 186 students who would otherwise have no education.
Witch School is a Wiccan school offering both online courses as well as courses on their two campuses in Chicago, Illinois, and Salem, Massachusetts. As the name suggest, this is a place where witchcraft is taught.
Delphian was founded in the 1970s by a group of educators who shared a dream of transforming education. It is an independent, coeducational day and boarding school located in Sheridan, Oregon, and is open to students from around the world. Inside this secretive and very expensive “Scientology school” students are taught through clay modeling and staring matches, while some of the most famous celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, have trusted their kids’ education to it.
Train Platform Schools
India is home to nearly half a billion children, many of whom live in extreme poverty and unfortunately, many of them don’t have access to an education. A schoolteacher, Inderjit Khurana, who took the train on a daily basis to work, knew these children couldn’t afford school and without education they would not be able to elevate themselves out of poverty. So she decided to take the school to these children and thus was born the “train platform school,” with the formation of the Ruchika Social Service Organization in 1985. Inderjit passed away on October 26, 2010, but the organization she left as her legacy continues to work toward educating children through these schools.
The Blue School
This coeducational, secondary school might not have books, but it still costs about $32,000 a year to attend. However, many parents have pulled their kids out of this Manhattan elementary school, which runs from kindergarten to fifth grade, because it reportedly focuses too much on games and doesn’t teach the children to read, but in all honesty that’s something one would have to consider before sending their kids to a school without books, no?
FDNY High School for Fire and Life Safety
The FDNY High School works in collaboration with the NYC Fire Department to offer an exceptional educational institution while introducing the occupational benefits of the Fire Services and Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Upon passing the New York State EMS Certification Exam in the twelfth grade, the students have the opportunity to roll into a full-time position with the fire department.
The Boat Schools of Bangladesh
Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world and for that reason has limited natural resources and is now strongly impacted by climate change, which makes it difficult for the people to help their communities. However, its people are really creative and managed to overcome the challenges that the country’s ecosystem poses by transforming the region’s waterways into pathways for education, information, and technology. So instead of buildings they have converted boats into schools, libraries, and healthcare and training centers for the isolated waterside communities.
Trabajo Ya School
This is literally a school like no other; one that offers professional instruction in how to sell your body. For about a €100 ($112) fee, pupils at Trabajo Ya, which means “Work Now,” in Valencia, Spain, are offered a “basic course in professional prostitution with maximum discretion.” However, Spain’s first prostitution school still faces legal challenges from campaigners seeking to close it amid growing public concern.