1. The Blue School
Did you know The Blue Man Group has a school? It has no books, but it still costs $32,000 a year to attend. Parents are reportedly pulling their kids out of the Manhattan elementary school, which runs from kindergarten to 5th grade, because it focuses too much on games and doesn’t teach the children to read. That’s something they might have considered before sending their kids to a school without books.
2. The Delphian School
The Delphian School in western Oregon markets itself as a “real-world Hogwarts,” but it’s actually a real-world Scientology school, for grades K-12. The education is based around L. Ron Hubbard’s educational beliefs, which includes the idea that all words (even “the” and “it”) are grossly misunderstood. As a result, the school tries to teach students in an allegedly more concrete way. For example, they’re often asked to build things out of clay to illustrate concepts. Also, facial hair is banned. And it costs $42,000 a year.
3. Brooklyn Free School
At Brooklyn Free, classes are optional — and frequently taught by students. Some, like a high school-aged boy who taught a class on Tibet, are self-motivated and get educational value out of it. But others reportedly take advantage of the “you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to” mantra, and don’t do but sit around. The school naturally has a big problem with “boredom.”
4. Walt Disney Elementary
In 1954, children at the public elementary school in Levittown, Pennsylvania were given the opportunity to name their school after a public figure. The kids chose Walt Disney. When Disney got word of it, he sent artists to decorate the school acordingly. Half a century later, it’s still Disney-ified, with classrooms and hallways devoted to Disney characters.
5. School Of The Future
In 2003, Microsoft agreed to fund a $63 million Philadelphia public charter high school called “School of the Future.” Not only would the school be totally paper-free and rely entirely on technology, it would also mimic a real-world workplace schedule with a 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. school day. (The school day was eventually lengthened.) Naturally, all students are trained in Microsoft programs, presumably making them good candidates for post-grad employment.
6. FDNY High School For Fire And Life Safety
This school doesn’t just have fire drills — it prepares students for a career in fire safety. The Brooklyn high school is run by the Fire Department of New York.
7. Stratton Mountain School
Stratton Mountain School in Stratton, VT bills itself as a “winter sports academy.” Translation: go skiing and snowboarding for most of the day. The school has sent 53 students to the Olympics, while 90 have been on national teams.
8. Awakening Seed School
Started in a Phoenix, AZ garage in 1977, Awakening Seed wanted “children to be honored for who they are.” The school, which runs from pre-school to 5th grade, bans artificial juices and Lunchables. Their mission statement includes the line: “world peace is possible,” and this first verse of the school song describes the general attitude and curriculum: “The Seed’s not like most other schools / It’s a really special place / We dance and sing and do water play / There’s a smile on every face.”
9. Celebration Education
At this California school, each year has a theme around which all teaching is focused. In 2011, the theme was Leonardo da Vinci. The theme for the upcoming year is “Explore.” Classes aren’t segmented by subject — everything’s taught together. Of course, there are no grades or textbooks.
10. Play Mountain Place
Play Mountain Place describes itself as “a progressive alternative humanistic play-based preschool and elementary school located in Los Angeles, California.” Children are not pressured in any way — they can wear diapers for as long as they like, for instance. Classes take place primarily outside and part of the curriculum includes petting animals.