5 Insane Private Schools You Won't Believe Actually Exist

If you've decided to breed, then eventually you're going to have to find somewhere to educate your spawn so that they don't grow up hurling their own feces as a means of communication. If you have the extra cash, you may want to send your kid to a fancy private school. Just, you know, do your research first. Because there are some, uh, questionable private schools out there, like ...

#5. The Delphian School

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If you're willing to shell out 40 grand a year for your child's high school education, the institution you send him or her to had better be pretty outstanding. The first thing you might notice about the Delphian School is the striking beauty of the place, which sprawls out across 800 acres. Delving deeper, you may like what you find as you read of the school's emphasis on rigorous academics, motivated faculty, and high standards of personal responsibility. Sounds pretty good! And then you see it:

"Delphi Schools, Inc. owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Hubbard, whose extensive writings on education have guided our work in education and provide fundamental guidelines and policy for the schools in their approach to teaching, learning, and administration."

Express Newsletters / Hulton Archive / Getty
Oh shit.

Let us be clear about this: The Delphian School denies being affiliated with Scientology in any way. It's merely a coincidence that half the student body are practicing adherents, and that Tom Cruise's kids happen to be alumni.

So just what does an educational curriculum designed by L. Ron Hubbard look like, anyway? According to Hubbard, "All educational problems arise from misunderstood words," so students spend a part of their day ritualistically looking up words in the dictionary to understand the multitude of nuances to words like "the." Other activities include "training routines" where students are forced to remain stoic while other students scream abuse and ridicule. It's basically the first act of Full Metal Jacket.

Of course, discipline has always been where Scientology shines (not that it's a Scientology school, of course):

"The former students said their education at Delphian included a dizzying array of jargon, unorthodox notions of academic learning, and an intensive and complex disciplinary system based partly on peer monitoring ... 'It was a very fear-oriented student life,' said Paul Csige, who attended Delphian in the late 1990s ... 'Students were encouraged to tell on other students.' ... Rule-breakers' names and violations are also listed on a sheet called the 'Golden Rod' that hangs on the ethics officer's door, alumni said."

For some reason, the Delphian School bills itself as "a real-world Hogwarts," but we don't recall Harry Potter ever having to perform repetitive and pointless dictionary rituals while hooked up to an E-meter. The incessant peer-enforced segregation and bullying that formed part of Harry's experience, however, has translated pretty well -- students who are not Scientologists are apparently called "wogs" in much the same way non-wizards in Hogwarts were derided as "muggles."

Above: Dianetics?

But at least with a strong discipline base and, uh, a deep understanding of words, graduates from the Delphian School must wind up with some decent jobs, right? Well, most of them wind up joining the Sea Org, Scientology's labor corps, which demands that you sign a "billion-year contract" for the privilege.

#4. Naropa University

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Located in woodsy Boulder, Colorado, Naropa University was founded in 1974 by Chogyam Trungpa, Oxford graduate and meditation master of the "crazy wisdom" tradition of Tibetan Buddhism (that's actually what it's called). Perhaps to avoid the religious-school label, Naropa describes itself as a Buddhist-inspired school, and it received regional accreditation in 1988.

Via Princetonreview.com
"This is a weird way to learn about the Spanish Civil War."

The university has a reputation around Boulder, a city that is rarely accused of being straight-laced, as being "expensively flaky." As a vital component of the school's mission to provide a "contemplative education," students may choose to sign up for a tai chi or yoga class for credits, but in some departments a meditation class is a requirement.

Via Kevin Moloney for the New York Times
It's no wonder they have the best synchronized meditation team in the country.

The first degrees offered by the university were in such areas as Buddhist studies and visual art, as well as expressive art certificates for dance, theater, and poetry. They've since expanded to include even more of the type of major that normally necessitates that the graduate's parents have plenty of living space in the basement after graduation.

Whether you're a white guy with dreadlocks enrolled in a peace studies program or a hirsute patchouli-soaked bohemian gal burning the midnight oil for your next ecopsychology exam, there's a little something for everyone to disappoint Mom and Dad. There's even a course in wilderness therapy (which actually includes a "vision quest" on the syllabus).

Via Naropa.edu
Here we see a student practicing for the interpretive dance portion of his macroeconomics final.

Unsurprisingly, Naropa U isn't exactly regarded as a world-class academic institution. It came in 2,150th among colleges in 2012 and boasts a four-year graduation rate of 19 percent. That probably puts it above some of those colleges that are Mafia fronts for drug running. We're not going to say that their worldview might be a little naive, but while the school's mission statement "recognizes the inherent goodness and wisdom of each human being," an accounts payable clerk in the university's finance department embezzled the shit out of them for nearly $600,000 over two years.

#3. Maharishi Schools

Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

If you think that the regular crap they teach your kids in school (math and language and science and whatnot) is all a little too practical for your tastes, then you might consider sending the tykes to Maharishi School. Following the mystical and trademarked techniques of transcendental meditation, pupils at the Maharishi School (with campuses in Britain, Australia, and Iowa) can learn to develop their powers of clairvoyance, invisibility, and flight. Holy shit! This one actually is Hogwarts!

Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images
"Shit. Has the 'dead rabbit removal' crew already gone home for the night?"

The Maharishi schools don't advertise the magic side of their curriculum right there on their website. They simply assure parents that their kids will receive a balanced curriculum, and the only real catch is that they have to participate in transcendental meditation sessions twice a day. They say it makes you more receptive to learning, but a little investigation reveals that TM advocates claim to have "scientifically proven" that their techniques make you psychic.

And then there's the claim that you can actually achieve human levitation during a TM session. YouTube is full of videos that purport to demonstrate this, although the "flight" looks suspiciously like hopping cross-legged.

The Maharishi School was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian guru most famous for having been the spiritual advisor to the Beatles. The Fab Four ultimately shed their association with him after some "inappropriate behavior" and "financial disagreements" and their discovery that levitation is "bullshit." But Maharishi's connection to the band rocketed him to worldwide fame and the cover of Time magazine, all while battling allegations of both tax fraud and regular fraud. Somehow, despite the questionable nature of his claims, he managed to get his schools taxpayer funding, because who is the government to say that we can't teach fourth graders to fly?

Parents of Maharishi School students better limber up enough to pretzel themselves into a lotus position as well, because "it is expected that at least one carer/parent also learn TM at the same time as the child." Of course, Maharishi schools vehemently deny being a cult, and there's certainly nothing cult-like about promising children magic powers as long as they go home and convert their parents.

Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
"Bring your mother before us. The Eye of Johabee commands it."

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