When you think about the education you had as a child, would you consider it to be fairly normal? Most people think that their education system is completely right, with nothing bizarre or unorthodox about it; and they would be right. However, there are some countries that look at education in a completely different way. In fact, you’re probably living in a country that has a bizarre or unorthodox education system! Let’s take a look at some of the strangest education courses, rules and regulations you can get around the world.
Finland tops the list every time, as being a country renowned for such an unorthodox education system. Many experts worldwide have tried to work out whether what Finland are doing in their schools is completely right, or completely wrong. With this country topping the education charts year upon year, it seems that what they’re doing could be spot on!
So, what makes them so unorthodox? Firstly, children do not start school until they are 7 years old and rarely will they take exams or have to do homework until they are teenagers. All children are taught in the same classrooms and there is just one mandatory test taken, when they reach the age of 16. This has meant that the difference between the strongest and the weakest students are is the smallest in the world, with 66% of them going to college and 93% of them graduating from high school. It seems as though the Finnish education system takes everything most of the western world does and turns it upside down; it also seems as though this method is working. It probably also helps that teachers have to be the best of the best and are given the same status as doctors or lawyers in Finland.
How many letters are in your alphabet? If you’re reading this as your first language then it’s probably going to be 26. Now imagine having hundreds, if not thousands, of letters to learn at school. That’s exactly what happens in Japan! Japanese school children have to learn several scripts, in order to be able to read and write.
First of all, children will learn the Hiragana script, which contains 46 different characters. Each of these characters are used for words that have a Japanese origin and are extremely useful for reading and writing. Several strokes are used, just to create each of the 46 characters, meaning that children have to practice and repeat each one before perfecting it. Next comes Katakana, which is mainly used for names, places and words of a foreign origin. This script consists of another 46 characters and tends to be easier to master than Hiragana. Next up in Kanji, which consists of around 2,000 most commonly used characters; most people will need to learn about 100 of the most used before being able to write basic sentences. Finally, there is Romaji, which is the Romanization of Japanese characters. And you thought learning 26 letters was bad…
Wait, we know what you’re thinking; the US has a normal education system, right? That may be the case for the majority of the country, but you may be surprised to find that there are dozens of bizarre learning methods around. There are several big university and colleges in the US that offer some extremely unorthodox ways of learning, along with some truly strange courses. Here are just a few of the ones we mean:
Elvish – Learn how to speak ‘elf’ like your favorite characters from Lord of the Rings, at the University of Wisconsin.
How to Win a Beauty Pageant – Thought that all beauty queens were uneducated? Think again, as you can actually go to Oberlin College, Ohio, and learn how to win a beauty pageant.
The meaning of life – People are always talking about trying to find the meaning of life, but one US college already teaches it. Rhode Island School of Design offers a philosophy course that focuses on what life really means.
Introduction to wines – They say that college life is all about getting drunk and going to parties; no more so if you take the introduction to wines course at Cornell University, New York.
Just like the US, the UK is no stranger to bizarre learning methods and even stranger college courses. At Staffordshire University, students used to be able to study the world famous footballer, David Beckham. That is until the newspapers went wild and Professor Ellis Cashmore changed the course to encompass Football Culture as a whole. Not a big football fan? Don’t worry, as Durham university offers a unit called ‘Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion’ within their education studies course. Learn all about Muggles, magic and even the prejudice that surrounds Gryffindor and Slytherin.
It isn’t just college courses that are bizarre education systems in the UK, however, as primary schools are now getting stranger. More and more independent schools have been popping up all over the UK, that offer a unique way for your child to learn. Don’t want your child to learn the alphabet and instead play up until the age of 12? There’s a school for that. Want your child to learn only through technology? There’s a school for that too. Far more unorthodox learning methods are creeping out of the woodwork in the UK; many which seem to be taking a leaf out of Finland’s education book.
As a third world country, the education system in Ghana is very different to what we may see in the Western world. Although much of what the children learn may be very similar to what we were taught as kids, the way things are done can be very different. Ghanaian schools are all taught in exactly the same way, with a unified national curriculum for the entire country. That means that children get the same textbooks by grade, no matter where in Ghana they go to school. That isn’t the strange part though, what is weird is how they get by without the use of technology and modern equipment.
As there are very few computers in Ghana (and barely any internet access), many schools will share equipment with others. A local school may have two computers, which are then transported from place to place in order to ensure everyone gets their fair share. It also keeps them safe, as expensive equipment could get stolen from a school after hours. What’s even more unique is that the children and teachers will carry computers from school to school, on top of their heads. Well, it is how most things are carried in Ghana, so why not?
Canada has a fairly normal education system in the grand scheme of things, although there are the odd college class here and there like the UK and US. What we found odd, however, were the things that have been banned in Canadian classrooms. Strange rules and regulations have sprung up all over Canada, with various schools banning things that are quite frankly bizarre and unorthodox.
In St Joseph High School, Ottawa, yoga pants are not allowed unless covered by a long shirt. They are adamant that these popular yoga pants are too tight around the front and back, therefore causing distractions in the class. Leggings and leggings are a no-no too. A school in Brampton, Ontario, wins the award for the strangest ban of all time, however. Hugs are banned in Earnscliffe Senior Public School. Yes, hugs. Their “no loving, no shoving” policy aims to cut down on violence and unwanted touching, but students were not impressed. Imagine not being able to hug your friends when you’re having a bad day? Sounds like a recipe for disaster and a lot of social awkwardness. Luckily, the students staged a ‘hug-in’ as a protest and the ban has been lifted since.
When it comes to unorthodox college courses and strange things being banned, like many of our Western world school, Australia takes the prize every time. On the face of it, the Australian education system may seem pretty normal, it is also one of the best in the world. However, there are some strange things lurking underneath, if you look closer. One of these is the Maharishi Schools that have recently sprung up over Australia. Here pupils can learn all about invisibility, flight and clairvoyance; whilst developing their powers at the same time. It all sounds a bit like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to us!
Australian schools are pretty keen to ban things, too. Over the last few years there’s been rules against hugging (maybe they copied Canada), hipster glasses, flap jacks and loom bands; all found within schools around Australia. Unsupervised cartwheels on the playground at the latest school ban that has been enforced, at Perigean Springs State School in Queensland. It isn’t just cartwheels though, handstands and any type of gymnastic activity cannot be carried out without supervision. Parents have gone mad, saying that kids should allowed to be kids; which includes falling over and scraping their knees.
It’s not so much the education system in Germany that’s unorthodox, but more the names of some of their schools. After World War II, most things to do with Nazi Germany and the people involved were banned, but it seems as though they forgot this when it came to naming schools. Here are just some of the most bizarre school names that you will find in Germany:
Klaus Riedel – This rocket scientist helped develop the Retaliation Weapon, which was used during World War II; using 12,000 forced laborers in Nazi Germany.
Peter Petersen – A teacher who was a big fan of racial superiority, he even wrote about it in various books. There are several schools still named after this man.
Rudolf Dietz – A poet who was also a member of the Nazi party. He used to write anti-Semitic poems during World War II.
Agnes Weigel – A huge fan of Adolf Hitler, a member of the Nazi party and yet another poet.
There’s no way we would be sending our children to any of these schools in Germany, even if they are supposed to be some of the best in Europe!
If you hated going to school 5 days a week, then you should have gone to school in France. In most of the schools here, you only have to attend for 4 days a week; with Wednesday as a day of rest. Imagine, you work hard Monday and Tuesday, do nothing on the Wednesday, go back Thursday and Friday, then it’s the weekend again. Despite it seeming quite unproductive, the French have had this 4 day school week for a very long time; it doesn’t seem to be doing them any harm.
Some schools in France, however, believe you should be learning for 5 days a week and that is why some students will go to school on a Saturday. That’s right, Saturday schools. Wednesday is a day off for most in France, as an old tradition that has never really ended. If you go to a small French village or town then you will notice that even the local convenience store is closed on a Wednesday. School days are a lot longer in France, however, with most children finishing at 5.30pm instead of 3pm or 4pm like most other countries. It means they’ll generally have the same amount of lessons as those that are educated 5 days a week.
United Arab Emirates
The reason United Arab Emirates has a bizarre and unorthodox education system all boils down to how much it can cost a student to learn. Parents can pay more for their 3 year old child to go to pre-school in Dubai, then they would fork out for a University degree in the UK. It can cost around $15,000 per year to send a 3 year old to school in the United Arab Emirates, which is nearly $1,000 more than a year’s tuition at Cambridge or Oxford University.
The price can rise even more, depending on which school you pick and what year your child is in. The GEMS World Academy, in Dubai, charges around $26,000 a year for secondary school (high school) fees; 75% more than the cost of a year at a UK university. Not only that, but schools will charge money for students to apply for entry, charges for transport, medical costs and all extra-curricular activities. Those living and working in United Arab Emirates have recently taken to bank loans, or even moving out of the country, just for their child to get an education. With costs like this, it’s no wonder that Dubai has the highest literacy rate in the world.