What's with the name?
Allow us to explain.
by Susana Polo | 12:34 pm, September 5th, 2012
Many people out there have headed back to school this week, whether they are students, teachers, or loving parents. And if not this week, then they've probably been at it long enough to already long for the blissful freedom of summer vacation.
And so, as the fortunate or unfortunate majority who no longer return to those hallowed halls yearly, and instead must assign our own homework, we'd like to highlight some schools where it doesn't seem like any learning goes on at all, or where half the student body is dead by the end of the first semester.
Because it could always be worse. In fact, if you've got any examples we forgot, let us know in the comments.
(This grid originally appeared on Geekosystem, because it was Labor Day weekend, and we decided to give ourselves less homework!)
"Skool" reads the sign on the front of the building where the characters of Invader Zim go every day to be lectured by the apparently phantasmal creature known as Ms. Bitters on the futility of dreams and the ultimate doom in store for all life in the universe.
The nurse thinks that more organs = more healthy. The classroom phones are powered by souls. At any moment a student may be sent to the "underground classroom" which appears to be full of flame and the teachers refuse to talk about.
There's also classroom over-crowding, a hamster in a cage, and parent teacher conferences. Makes us shudder just thinking about it.
The school that the three main characters of Neon Genesis Evangelion go to seems to be pretty normal, for a world that has been under regular, random attacks from massive alien belongs known as Angels for more than a decade and may well be staring down the barrel of the apocalypse.
That is, until you get deep into the series, and suddenly realize that all of the secondary student characters come from broken families. Specifically, none of them have mothers.
This is significant beyond a certain macabre coincidence. The Eva units, skyscraper sized mechas that are the only human technology capable of defeating angels, can only be piloted by people who were conceived after the appearance of the first angel fifteen years ago. Each unit is powered by an anonymous human soul, which must be in synchrony with its pilot. It is heavily implied that the souls at the heart of each Eva unit belonged to the mother of its pilot.
And so, it can be extrapolated that, rather than a regular school with three extraordinary students, their school is actually just a place for students specifically selected for their suitability as Eva pilots. Should any of the three pilots be killed or deemed too unstable, one of the hapless kids from Tokyo-3 middle school will be chosen to replace them.
Well, except for Rei. They'd just pull another one of her out of the basement.
It's bad enough that you're going to school with Elijah Wood, before The Lord of the Rings. And that your teachers are the T-1000 or Agent John Dogget from post-shark-jumping-The-X-Files (pick whichever is worse), and Jon Stewart's evil twin.
But now the new kid has infested the school administration with alien parasites, and now they're doing their best to infest everyone else. They've already got the football team. You and five acquaintances should probably go do something about that, before they use that big game to spread the infection to another school.
One more thing: you're in a Robert Rodriguez movie. Good luck.
The Power Rangers might have attitude, but they are clearly not teenagers. TV Tropes calls this Dawson Casting, after the famous Creek, which asked us to accept a cast aged 17-20 as fifteen year olds.
Honestly, though, we understand how difficult it is to adapt your plots to the restrictions of high school life. That's a challenging writing trick, and maybe you just don't feel like working that hard for a kids show that's half Japanese stock footage anyway. Especially if you also think you can get away with having an Asian yellow ranger, an African American black ranger, a Caucasian white ranger, and a female pink ranger all on the same show. And if your characters' idea of protecting their secret identities was to dress in their assigned color all the time and make sure to hang out with each other to illustrate the parallel.
But this doesn't change the fact that those characters are supposed to be in high school. They certainly spent a lot of time in the Youth Center and the park, and they went to prom, but when did these kids freakin' go to class? Does Angel Grove even have a high school?
The Animorphs get a pass for adhering to the trope of teenage superheroes who almost never appear to go to class, because it's not just appearances. They almost don't ever go to class. The books frequently reference the fact that these kids don't have time to do normal stuff like go to class, get an education, or spend time with their families, because they are desperately trying to stave off a secret alien invasion, and they can't tell anyone because anyone might be an alien.
But hey, that's their problem. Their school is still a great place for other kids to go, right? Well, I guess so. If you forget about the fact that vice-principal Chapman is infested with an alien slug, and that the administration openly sponsors a terrifyingly named youth group called The Sharing (seriously, how ominous is that?) which is actually a front to manipulate teenagers into voluntarily submitting to alien control with cult-like tactics.
So, yeah. I heard alien brain slugs can really help with the SATs.
Look, I'm sure that Professor Xavier actually came by his honorifics honorably (from Harvard, Oxford, and Columbia, apparently), and I'm sure that he's made sure that Jean, Scott, and Ororo are certified. And there's no question of Hank McCoy's suitability as a teacher.
But how much teaching can actually go on at a school where the teachers are jetting off every other day to save the world? Sometimes taking students with them? Sometimes becoming possessed by the billion-year-old source of all life in the universe?
And once and for all, does Wolverine teach gym or art? Or "close quarters combat?" He's gotta teach something now that he's in charge of the whole dang place. Except now he's with the Avengers? Sort that stuff out, man. You've got kids to be responsible for.
So you think your high school social drama is pretty tough? Well, what if your high school drama was film noir?
Unwanted pregnancy, drug dealing, rich kids, drama students, neglected nerds, stoners, and yeah, even the jocks itching for a reason to beat some poor kid to a pulp (and I don't mean magazines). What if it had all the gravitas, seriousness, and possibly earth shaking consequences of The Maltese Falcon?
Actually, that's pretty much how high school feels all the time while you're in it, so… touché.
I've talked about the metaphysical mash (and I mean that as a real fan of the series) Revolutionary Girl Utena is before. Fundamentally, though, despite the show's thematic touches on world domination, societal revolution, jungian archetypes as real persons, meta-critical examinations of anime tropes themselves, and shaking gender roles around like an Etch A Sketch; the show is a classic shojo magical girl story that was directed by one of the guys behind Sailor Moon.
Which is to say that it takes place entirely on an enormous boarding school campus, and the characters are all students or the headmaster. Parents pretty much never appear. Teachers, barely. Every now and then someone will mention homework, and there's that one filler episode where the characters appear to be taking a home economics course, but for the most part, they go about their lives of fencing duels, dramatic looks, social manipulation, and bringing about the world revolution uninterrupted by the demands of learning anything in a classroom setting.
Allow me to explain Clone High as I always do, by quoting the theme song.
Way way back in the nineteen-eighties
Secret government employees
Dug up famous guys and ladies
And made amusing genetic copies
Now the clones are sexy teens now
They're gonna make it if they try
Loving, learning, sharing, judging
Time to laugh, shiver and cry
So… yeah. Your student body is made entirely of cloned historical figures, all of them either striving or cracked under the weight of living up to the legacies of their historical counterparts. The show's one season spent a lot of energy making fun of teen drama shows, and also creating some of the most quotable lines in MTV history.
Also, like many of the things on this list, the characters were in high school but were almost never shown in class. The dangers of slapstick comedy don't apply however, since the clones exhibit a very toon-like physical resiliency. The biggest academic challenge any of them faced was the PXJTs, an SAT equivalent.
However, aside from academics, there was the Secret Board of Shadowy Figures who caused them to be created in the first place, for god knows what purposes, who regularly butted heads with the school's Principal Scudworth. He wants to eventually harness all the clones to work in his theme park "Cloney Island." And that's with out mentioning Death Maze.
Do we really need to say anything about this one? Not only does the consistently empty library prove just how much stock this institution of learning puts into actual learning, Sunnydale High is quite possibly the most dangerous building in the world. It's probably that handy entrance to Hell thing that does it.
Seriously, while everyone has their problems in high school, this school is the only one where, through the power of metaphor, all those problems will turn into monsters and try to eat you. Worried about losing your virginity? Well, then your hot substitute teacher's gonna try to eat you. Want to have a night to remember at prom? Well, then a bunch of hellhounds are gonna try to eat you. Want to just graduate in peace? Well, then you just know the mayor is gonna transform into a giant demon snake during his speech and try to eat you. That's just the way it is here.
Parents, if you're trying to decide a good school district to raise your children in, here's a helpful tip. Don't move to the one that gives out a "Class Protector" award to the girl who helped the most kids not die.
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Animorphs | Brick | Buffy the Vampire Slayer | Clone High | Invader Zim | Mighty Morphin Power Rangers | Neon Genesis Evangelion | Revolutionary Girl Utena | The Faculty | X-Men
Morning Glory Academy.
Totally have to mention Morning Glories Academy from the comic Morning Glories! That is one school you do not want to go to.
Sky High, from the Disney movie of the same name.
A high school for superheroes that floats in the air above a metropolis. On their first day of high school students are separated, according to their powers, into “Hero” and “Sidekick” tracks. The Sidekick track is exclusively subjects that deal with making “your hero” look good. This system leads to massive bullying for the sidekicks, both from the students and the faculty.
Not to mention the gym activity, “save the civilian.” students are separated into two teams of two. The “good guys” try to save a mannequin from being destroyed by a giant grinder, and the “villains” try to prevent them. During this activity, teachers reminisce about when THEY USED ACTUAL PEOPLE. They killed people trying to train heroes on how to save people. (While also training heroes on how to kill people.)
Not to mention that no non-superhero education ever happens. Lord save us if a superhero from Sky High is ever faced with a life or death algebra problem.
Seriously. We’ve seen the students in an actual classroom, what, maybe once? At which point the room filled with water to try to drown people. Everything that hasn’t been psychological torment has been “team-building exercises.” Wait, no, that’s still the same thing.
Also, if you attend the school, your parents evidently utterly forget you ever existed. Mind you, that might be a *selling* point for some teens…
…I really, really want to read a story with a life-or-death algebra problem now.
“I will push this button and annihilate the entire eastern seaboard… unless Captain Magnificent solves this tenth-grade algebra problem in the next five minutes!”
It’s not fair! Does Abe love Joan or Cleo? What will Scudworth do with a bunch of frozen famous historical clones and a board of shadowy figures? DOES JOHN STAMOS LIVE!?
Wolverine teaches Comportment! http://copperbadge.livejournal.com/3508853.html
(Officially, Wolverine teaches history and something about fighting [http://i1266.photobucket.com/albums/jj531/copperbadge/Sam%20Explains%20Mutants/tumblr_m55yknyXO41qaevcvo1_1280.jpg ])
I seem to recall that Jason once showed how to spin a bow staff as his talent for class…What high school does Show and Tell?!
There was a great vignette by Scottie Young about Anole and in it, he actually states that all the time the students spent fighting off death threats resulted in Anole having a terrible education. When the school closes and he goes back to regular school in his home town, he realized he was nowhere near the level of education of his peers. It’s a rare glimpse into these oft-seen classes but never seen curriculums…other than Telepathy, Flight, and Martial Arts classes.
Fowra Suppah, Oi, err ah, want a pahty plattah!
I’ve started to wonder if people didn’t use the Sunnydale High library because they felt ‘creeper out’ or something. Like they were being watched. I mean I know people are stupid, but you’d think standing on top of a literal gateway to hell would warrant a couple hairs standing on end.
also, the scooby gang had to deal with snyder…what an ass
also, giles wasnt the most attentive librarian to the students. for instance, he didnt help that kid who needed a copy of emily dickinson, and the books werent always shelved properly. (huge gaps in the stacks, upside down volumes, ect.)
I absolutely loved Animorphs. It was awesome! <3
Personally I think pokemon's a viable option for a worst school ever, simply because they don't even send you to an actual school. Your just thrown out in the world at ten years of age and fight using creatures. Seriously, Pokemon is awesome, but I doubt my parents would've ever let me do that. Even as irresponsible as they are.
What about Lawndale High, from Daria?
While we DO see the students in class, between the idiotic students, the dysfunctional staff, and Principal Li, I’d certainly consider it an academic dystopia.
I would say Fujimi Acadamy from “Highschool of the Dead”, considering everyone in the school either gets killed, turned into zombies, or flees in the first few episodes (not to mention how “wonderful” the one teacher you know of who escapes is), but I don’t know if it counts since everyone who is still alive has left the school after the first few episodes.
Also in anime, there’s Yomiyama North from “Another” where class 3-3 is cursed, and each year the curse may end up causing multiple students and their family members to die in disturbing ways if it isn’t stopped (and even if it is stopped for that year, there’s always next year)– and this had been going on since 1972. Yet the majority of the faculty keeps quiet about it and does not try to help or even talk about it if asked.
I was just about to say!
Also Better they forget you than the alternative for them.. GULP.
The DWMA (Death Weapon Meister Academy) from Soul Eater and Soul Eater NOT!
The grim reaper himself is the headmaster … nuff’ said .
He will finally open Cloney Island! It will be just like Madame Tussaud’s, but with a much chillier climate.
Holy crap, someone else has watched Clone High! That is still one of my favorite shows, and i quote it on a constant basis. In fact, just two minutes ago…”I’m gonna eat you like a dingo eats a baby. Koala! Wallaby! Oi oi oi!”
What about Casper High from Danny Phantom yeah we saw them in class from time to time but with how many ghosts were zipping around not including Danny Mother F-ing Phantom/Fenton I’m surprised they didn’t abandon the school or hire a priest to deal with these things
I’d have been pretty creeped out if my school library had been 95% books on demons, witchcraft and the occult. I imagine that all the books actually useful to non-Scoobies would have fit on half a shelf.
Given some of the events in the comic, I’m still not entirely clear on whether or not that alternative is real or some sort of induced hallucination. (Then again, a fairly solid argument could be made that it’s hard to tell if *anything* involving that school is real or no.)
Good one! For those not familiar though, it may require clarification:
Neptune High was the school that Veronica Mars (in the series of the same name) went to for the first two seasons of the show. Some spoilers follow though not with specific episodes listed:
The school sits in a town where the heroine literally describes it as where everyone is either really rich, or working for them… and boy does it show. It’s corrupt as hell, from the student body (ID forgery! Secret societies! Graft! Blackmail! Motorcycle gangs!), to the administration (one teacher was boinking a student and paid her off to get an abortion; the system allows for “Pirate Points” that allow kids who are say, on the football team, to get privileges like lunch delivery, while leaving the kids more into arts or sciences in the cold; the IT guy was selling students’ email passwords; the principle forced the journalism teacher to NOT cover the most important school-relevant story and when she allowed it anyway and broke the case thereby saving an innocent kid… she gets pushed out).
Also, all of the kids from these families are being screwed by the system somehow, whether it’s their rich (and in some cases, probably abusive) daddies, or being accused of crimes they didn’t commit. Did I mention the local sheriff is a lazy ass who refused to follow up on Veronica’s rape and has railroaded at least a couple of men who turned out to be innocent, and has like zero respect for any of the citizens they supposedly protect, let alone the poor ones?
Did I mention that despite the “teen girl solves mysteries” angle, the show was in fact very much told in the classic noir style, too? So yeah, you get a real zeroing in on the corruption and poverty and occasionally abusive parents… and this is the system these people have to live with. Rich assholes control almost everything, generally at the expense of the poor.
Oh, and CRIME. I have no idea what the actual canonical crime rate is in the series, but it must be pretty damn high since there’s at least one or two if not several crimes every damn week AT THE HIGH SCHOOL ALONE.
Haven’t finished watching the series yet, but the local college seems to have an equally high crime rate, which is otherwise not surprising for a college campus (young impressionable drunken youths living away from home tend to get targeted, after all), but in this case is really saying something. Did I mention there was a serial rapist on that campus at one point?
Seriously, that place sounds like an awful place to live.
Mathemagics by Margaret Ball and the related short stories in the Chicks in Chainmail anthologies. Magic spells take the form of algebra equations. Features a barbarian warrior who moved to the suburbs, her daughter, her algebra teacher boyfriend, and a cast of warriors, warlords, wizards, and PTA members.
I should’ve thought of those, because I’ve actually read — and enjoyed — them; I still have a battered old paperback of Mathemagics. The “superhero” bent of the original post and my reply evidently kept me from thinking fantasy. Mea culpa!
All this and not a single mention of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil? Like 5 students die every episode! The school is always getting overrun with plants, convered in blood, converted to a RPG, or a musical. I know it’s only big in Canada, but someone has to know about it.
I’m so glad the Animorphs made it! I thought of them as soon as I saw the description for this piece. I remember Rachel receiving some award for getting all A’s in the books at some point and being like “WTF? She is always battling Yeerk-infested Hork Bajir at like 3 AM, who has time for school work? Especially when you are in love with a boy who is unfortunately trapped in a red-tailed hawk’s body?”
Throw some ‘errs’ and ‘ahhhs’ in there. What’s your hurry?
I personally wouldn’t want to go to whatever school that was in Battle Royale. Be a part of the randomly select a 9th grade class that fights to the death? No gracias.
Cromartie High from the anime of the same name. It might be a school for badasses, but not the academically inclined. It’s bad enough dealing with a gorilla and a robot, but FREDDIE MERCURY? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4R7j5iR7JM
I only just watched Buffy over the last year, and one of the things I was constantly discussing with my friends (veteran Buffy fans) was how the hell Sunnydale high manages to stay open. I mean, it’s one thing to talk about the stupidity of parents who move to/live in Sunnydale when it’s open knowledge that dozens of kids die at that school every year. But how do they manage to keep the place staffed? Why would anyone ever agree to work there, again, when there are dozens of deaths, disappearances, and weird events every year, and at least a few teachers die along with the kids? I guess you could make the case that the Mayor and the cops keep things hushed up, but it seems like word would still get out.
As far as Animorphs goes, I’d have to argue that the school itself is not actually terrible, it seems to function like a fairly normal school. Yes, some of the teachers are possessed by brain slugs, but in most cases that doesn’t affect their teaching. And the Animorphs themselves seem to manage an attendance rate no worse than some normal kids up until the later books, when the war becomes more open. Of course, like most TV schools, the show may have done things differently.
Xavier’s school, though, has no excuse. There is just no possible way anyone is getting an education when there’s only 4-5 teachers for the entire place, and half the students are being trained for a personal army. The other question I always had is: who is cooking and cleaning for all these people?! In a mansion that large, you’d have to have a pretty big staff just to manage the place (a la Downton Abbey) but there’s no one.
Nobody’s mentioned Greendale Community College.
Yeah, though it’s spiritual successor Blue Exorcist had *slightly* more time in actual classrooms, between trips to theme parks/Hell Gates and battling demons…
Holy crap yes! ANOTHER was a great anime! Ah, but people don’t talk about the curse because if you do, you might cause it to happen again, so the keeping quiet and trying to limit exposure to both the class and the knowledge of the curse made sense within the story line. But hot damn, I love that anime!
CLONE HIGH! The most quotable show to ever hit planet earth, not simply MTV. My husband and I are obsessed with this show. It’s hilarious- also, you might recognize the entire cast of scrubs’ and SNL voices. UH MAY ZING. So I guess what I’m trying to say is – plastic bag. Plastic bag. Plastic bag. Plastic bag. Plastic bag. Plastic bag!
There historical female military leaders are here to kick butt and chew bubble gum, and they're all out of bubble gum.
Six video game couples that have stuck with me over the years, each representing a different sort of love.
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