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 ...
The Delphian School
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."
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."
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.
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.
"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.
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).
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.
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!
"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.
"Bring your mother before us. The Eye of Johabee commands it."
Burgess Hill School
"Progressive" schools -- the kind that think it's a good idea to let students do whatever the hell they want to in order to "find themselves" -- are not a new phenomenon. Way back in the early 1960s there was a private boarding school in the U.K. where smoking in class (if you bothered to show up), popping wheelies on the quad lawn with your dirt bike, and dressing like third-rate Kenickies and strung out Leather Tuscaderos were all considered acceptable student behavior.
Founded by Cambridge graduate James East, who believed that "every child should first find himself, education can come later," the Burgess Hill boarding school in Hampstead, London, took permissiveness to heretofore unexplored realms of apathy. The theory was that since forbidding a child from doing something will inevitably invite revolt, that child should therefore be allowed to bring the ruckus.
After having what he considered to be an unhappy childhood himself, East was determined to "make the development of today's pupils less of an ordeal." What this meant was that the kids were allowed to curse freely, disregard proper hygiene, and study only when they felt like it. In a promotional video about the so-called "beat school," they discuss how even table manners are considered antiquated and unnecessary, while students shove wads of meat into their mouths and sloppily share their meals with a dog.
But all this sounds positively normal when you consider that pupils were encouraged to smoke, as illustrated by the boy of about 11 puffing contentedly on a cigarette in between blasts on a harmonica. We understand that this was the '60s and the dangers of cigarettes weren't as widely known back then, but the sheer tobacco consumption at this place makes one wonder if the entire operation wasn't secretly funded by Brown & Williamson. The headmaster acknowledged the situation by stating, "Kids always smoke, and I'd rather know about it than have it done in secret."
No, seriously, they really, really want kids to smoke there.
Regrettably, our research department was unable to come up with any "Where Are They Now?" investigative studies, but we'd be curious to find out where Russell Brand went to school.
If, like many parents, you're concerned that mainstream education is a cold and unfeeling machine that treats your child like a number, then you might be tempted to send the precious little one to a Waldorf school, where each child is treated as an individual. In the weirdest possible way.
Waldorf education is the largest-growing alternative education movement in the world today, and although some schools will admit it more readily than others, their system is based on a spiritual movement called anthroposophy, which revolves around things like karma, astrology, clairvoyance, reincarnation, and "advancing children's connection to the spirit world."
"No, Jimmy, wrong spirit door! Run toward the light!"
According to Waldorf advocates, individual children should be labeled with different "temperaments" based on their physical characteristics. These characteristics can include the general build, the size of the head, and the, well, color of the skin. After the children are assigned as "phlegmatic," "sanguine," "choleric," or "melancholic," they are then to be treated differently according to that classification.
If this doesn't already sound like something dreamed up by your racist grandpa, Waldorf schools also adhere to a low-tech, anti-technology mantra. That doesn't just mean they've banned iPads -- anything requiring batteries is taboo, and the toys available are things like pinecones and faceless dolls, and anything else that would make an Amish elder grunt in approval. Ironically, some of the biggest fans of this style of education include many in the Silicon Valley crowd, who balk at the idea that a tablet can teach their kids to read. Not that Waldorf schools will teach them to read -- they commonly delay reading to the point where children cannot do so proficiently until age 9 or 10.
"Sure, Dad, I'd love to hear you read me a story. Thanks for rubbing it in, asshole."
The philosophy behind Waldorf education was dreamed up at the turn of the 20th century by Rudolph Steiner of Austria, a crackpot who we have already mentioned due to his daffy agricultural theories that included filling cow horns with manure and burying them to please the Earth spirits. If classifying children into categories based on skin color makes you uncomfortable, it's probably because the idea came from a guy who believed that the highest state of being could only be found in the form of a Germanic or Nordic white European.
As demonstrated by this ridiculous stereotype.
Apparently, the Waldorf system has had some successes, from claims of higher SAT scores to a decent track record for working with troubled youths. And that's fine if you don't mind your kids learning that science is wrong about most things and that you have 12 senses based on the signs of the zodiac.
E. Reid Ross does some other stuff over at RealToyGun.com.
For more stupid things you can do with your millions and millions of dollars, check out 7 Great Products for Telling the World You're a Rich Dick and 6 Pet Products That Prove Rich People Have Gone Insane.
And to further expand your noggin, check out Cracked's De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn't Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew.