Endless homework and brain-damaging exams – that’s how most of us would describe their student years. The unusual schools we assembled here will force on you a painful personal conclusion – you studied the wrong thing, at a wrong time.
Prepare yourself for a glimpse at some of the most bizarre curriculums. Schools that shouldn’t exist but are there, laughing in the face of sanity.
1. Hamburger University
Flipping burgers is no longer a job for anyone. Now you need a university degree!
No, that’s not a peek into the sad future of the job market. It also not the secret name used by ranchers to talk about the slaughterhouse in the presence of the cows.
Hamburger University is real, and it taught more than 80,000 McDonald’s restaurant managers how to do a better job. Established in 1961, this Chicago institution offers honorary diplomas to all who graduate the 5-day course.
Making it on the dean’s list is easy. All you have to do is spot the things done wrong in a mock kitchen that emulates a traditional McDonald’s workplace. Everything from packing enough napkins to cutting fries to the standardized length is taught in detail here.
The nasty bit is that everywhere you’ll go around the campus, you will be near a creepy plastic Ronald McDonald.
Coming up next is a school that will make you develop trust issues.
2. Santa Claus School
Can you picture a classroom full of chubby white-bearded grandpas taking notes on how to be less grumpy?
We hate ruining it for the believers. There is more than one Santa Claus and under the iconic red suits are men who dread Christmas as much as anyone their age.
Many schools can teach you how to fit through the chimney or tame Rudolf. By far the most prestigious is Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School, in Michigan.
There is no winter vacation for those schooled to bring ‘Peace on Earth.’ As a matter a fact, Christmas Day is the climax of the exam period.
The disturbing picture below does not show a dystopian world where the red suit becomes a mandatory uniform. What you are seeing is the first generation of Santa Claus wannabes anxious to pass the final test.
Oh, and yes, they do have an entire course dedicated to getting the ‘Ho Ho Ho’ right.
Want to know what makes some students enroll in far away Iceland?
3. Icelandic Elf School
No, this is not a hoax conceived to fool fans of Tolkien’s universe.
Elf School exists and shouldn’t come as a shock once you learn that 54% of Icelanders believe elves are real. The Reykjavik-based institution goes back 29 years ago when someone devised a brilliant way to give folk tales a scientific flavor.
While most students attend Elf School to fulfill a geeky fantasy, headmaster Magnus Skarphedinsson takes the whole deal seriously. His lectures build upon the premise that elves are real.
You will learn not only about elves but also about other creatures collectively known as hidden people. Yep, dwarves, gnomes, and leprechauns are part of the curriculum. As for hobbits, it’s up to you to raise the hand and ask questions.
Any off-beat school tries to steer away from too much theoretical knowledge. The Icelandic Elf School offers field trips in places where the little creatures typically dwell.
Just make sure you don’t pack skepticism for this Icelandic educational saga.
Coming up next is a school perfect for those who hate reality.
4. Grey School of Wizardry
‘You Shall Not Pass!’ That’s how teachers scare their lazy students into studying harder at the Grey School of Wizardry.
Oberon Zell-Ravenheart had a vision back in 2004, and it involved teaching spells and potions to the masses. The Grey School of Wizardry takes pride (and attracts controversy) in lecturing about the Dark Arts. That’s a fancy name for what got people burnt at the stake some centuries ago.
If the name sounds familiar, it is because Oberon sees himself as a disciple of Gandalf the Grey. However, that’s not the only popular culture reference used to lure future students.
The Californian educational institution embraced the Hogwarts model of assigning pupils to different houses. Copyright laws prevented them from using the same names, so they had to be creative. One can sign up for Salamanders, Undines, Sylphs, or Gnomes.
The real-life Dumbledore has the merit of authorizing the only wizard academy in the world.
Those who graduate from Grey School have few options to continue their studies. The next unusual school is one of them.
5. Salem’s Witch School
Imagine a school where the homework you’re supposed to do consists in dancing around the fire wearing a goat’s cranium and doing pentagrams.
The International Witch School of Salem is each time an exotic presence at local education fairs. Offering a rather bizarre major, it promises few prospects for finding a job after graduation.
Apparently, it doesn’t make sense to establish a Witch School in the epicenter of the worst persecutions against magic. However, many things changed since the Salem witch trials of 1692.
Today’s technology makes the occult look harmless and ridiculous. Most who enroll do it because society judges sorcerers more casual since ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Charmed’ provided safe family fun.
Even so, the community never felt comfortable having a school founded on weird pagan beliefs and rituals. Frustration lead to lawsuits and the Salem Witch School had to close its doors and move entirely online.
While some schools make good use of modern technology, others resort to Stone Age habits.
6. Dongzhong Mid-Cave Primary School
A school inside a cave might sound like fun, but the unlucky children from a remote region of China had no better option.
The so-called Mid-Cave Primary School of Dongzhong first ‘opened its doors’ in 1984. Since then, generations of youngsters learned their way through math and Chinese accompanied by bats and other cave dwellers.
The poor lighting conditions inside the rock cavity were compensated by amenities that would make any modern school jealous. The cave boasts incredible acoustics and provides the perfect backdrop for geology lessons.
What happened to the Mid-Cave Primary School will disturb you. Once news reached the highest levels, Chinese authorities immediately suspended classes. Their motivation – ‘China is not a society of cavemen.’
India joins hands with China regarding undeveloped infrastructure. Just looks where poor souls are forced to learn!
7. School Under The Bridge
Your heart will rejoice to know a school for the unprivileged made good use out of an urban space that often goes to waste.
The ‘School Under The Bridge’ is the idea of New Delhi shop owner Rajesh Kumar Sharma. The 46-year-old started to offer free tuition back in 2006, and the school is now a landmark for the community.
Rajesh’s motivation is interesting. As a poor boy, he was forced to drop out of college and say goodbye to his dreams of becoming an engineer. He doesn’t want others to go through the same ordeal as him.
The ‘School Under The Bridge’ had to battle against the odds. The unusual setup is typically a garbage dump and a gathering place for homeless people and drug addicts.
Not everyone is blessed to ride a school bus! The next school is so remote, children literally crawl to reach it.
8. Gulu Elementary School
For most children, the road to school equals walking five minutes around the block.
The children of a remote Sichuan village are not amongst the lucky. They get their daily dose of education at the end of a gruesome 4-hour trek teaming with hazards. Their commute looks scary enough to fend off even the most experienced European hikers.
Gulu Elementary School requires both students and teachers to climb a treacherous mountain. Don’t ask us why the built it there. We also don’t know how many fatalities occurred to give the school its bad reputation.
It’s hard to call our world fair. Halfway around the globe, spoiled brats complain about having to brush their teeth and about dealing with bullies. At the same time, Chinese pupils scramble on a 30cm wide path and risk coming head to head with Yeti. Each and every day!
A remote location deepens the mystery around the next school.
9. Deep Springs College
Deep Springs College is so out of the ordinary even the official website has a hard time explaining what is all about.
Located in the Deep Springs Valley of California, it beats even China’s Gulu school regarding isolation from the rest of the world. Founder L.L. Nunn saw that as a crucial ingredient for excellence, exactly 100 years ago.
The few students admitted here deal with a unique curriculum. Cattle drives and other cowboy activities seem like dust in the eyes for the outsiders.
Conspiracy theories prefer to call Deep Springs a military facility rather than an education institution. Most intriguing is the fact that Soviet Russia was allowed to bury a seismic station here. Isn’t that weird?
Deep Springs is a male-only school. How it managed to keep such a sexist policy until today will remain a mystery.
The next school warns those with OCD not to come. There is so much chaos there no one keeps their pencils sharp and ready.
10. Brooklyn Free School
The founders of the Brooklyn Free School had one thing in common – regular schools pissed them off.
Calling this institution a ‘school’ really pushes the envelope. Students are allowed to do whatever they want when they want, and without having to weight the consequences.
It all starts with the internal rule that states everyone is equal. Yep, a 4-year-old that barely mastered the art of not wetting its pants has an equal vote in the school board with the dean.
Understanding how the Brooklyn Free School functions is complicated if you remain confined by the current education parading. Erase from mind the terms ‘homework,’ ‘exam,’ and ‘grades.’ Forget about mandatory attendance or obeying the teacher.
You will be relieved to know the scale at which such free schools conquered the system is limited. Only 80 enrolled last year and about a quarter graduate on average.
Imagine a school where not only you are allowed to smoke pot, but you also get accurate information on how to harvest your next stash.
11. Cannabis Training University
The Cannabis Training University of Denver, Colorado has opened its door in 2009, gratifying the ‘thirst’ for knowledge of every junky out there. And the whole thing is legal!
Forget about Harvard or Cambridge! Who needs a funky Dr. or Eng. when you can get your hands on a diploma with everyone’s favorite leaves engraved on it?
The Cannabis Training University is not just a caprice to make you look smart in the eyes of your friend. With the marijuana industry booming since the recent liberalization, higher education takes dealers off the street and makes them branch managers.
The unbelievable pot school offers an online course for those unlucky enough to live in parts of the world that resist change and don’t join the Drug Train. Something tells us it’s not a bright idea to enroll if you are from Iran or Saudi Arabia.
Japan couldn’t miss from our list of weird schools.
12. Husband-Hunting School
Husband hunting shouldn’t make you think about poaching and women learning to use shotguns.
The activity is legit in Japan, and they even built a school for it. Here women of all ages don’t just learn the tips and tricks for finding a partner but tap into the secrets of hunting the best men.
Japanese women take classes on food presentation and even practice making the perfect bow to impress the in-laws. We know what you are thinking right now.
They don’t call it Geisha School for obvious reasons. Japan has long made the pledge to sever its ties with the past and embrace modernity.
The Husband-Hunting School has state-of-the-art date simulators. Homework assignments often put the female students in awkward circumstance – ‘you are required to hit on three random men by next Friday and get to know their parents at the first dates.’
Coming up next is a school so liberal it will make you cringe.
13. Harvey Milk High School
Sexual minorities in New York City have one good reason to cheer.
They are the lucky ones to have the only education facility in the world designed according to their needs. The Harvey Milk High School made raising no eyebrows an official motto.
Despite sexual freedom conquered extensive grounds over the last years, one can only sit and watch how bullying remained a reality in our schools. Either gay, lesbian, or bisexual, those different from the norm can comfortably flaunt their love choices without feeling ashamed.
The school got the name in honor of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay to be elected to public office. Most history books don’t like you do know this detail.
Although encouraging, such a school threatens to impose a reversed discrimination. What if being heterosexual will one day become a crime. Would you dare to hold hands with your opposite-sex partner?
The school we all want is last on the list. If only you had one in your country.
14. Austrian International Sex School
A school that teaches applied sexuality seemed too good to be true.
That’s what most people thought when the Austrian International Sex School first made headlines. The ad promised a cozy 18th-century mansion as a venue, situated just one and a half hours of driving outside Sidney.
Hundreds of thousands of wannabe sex-experts signed in for what was supposed to be the best school ever. They were soon disappointed.
The dream school was nothing but a hoax perpetrated by an Austrian advocacy group. Their goal was to raise awareness about the countries record low birth rate.
Good luck with that!