Let us educate all of you here, a school or a college is an institution that has an educational curriculum. Now that I’ve said that, you might have realised that this discounts a lot of things that purport to be a school in any media. The issue with media is we see a lot of stuff, but we rarely see education happening, because it’s not exciting to watch, read or play.
However, we’ve gone back to think about what some of the best schools and colleges in the whole of geekdom are. We think we’ve come up with some pretty good ones. Let’s see if you are going to be a teachers pet after this lot, or if you’re just a poor student.
10) Camp Half-Blood – Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Everyone has heard of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, but if not, it’s a good way to learn more about mythology. Amusingly, Percy Jackson himself has been expelled from every school he’s gone to, so it’s not like you’re without schools in this series – But the most prominent one, at least the one that takes him in, is Camp Half-Blood. Known as the only safe place for Half-Bloods, Percy’s mother is told that she needs to send him there and that’s basically where he continues his education.
This is our number 10 pick simply because there’s not much in the way of “schooling” in this series. Yes, the camp technically counts as an educational institution, as there is technically a curriculum in place. With this said, it doesn’t mean it’s the best pick – but it’s certainly what we’d count as a school using our own terms. What do you all think though?
9) House of Night
House of Night is a series of books written by P. C. Cast and her daughter, Kristin Cast. It’s been out for over 9 years so far, but not a lot of people have really heard of this series or know much about it. It just so happens, we have the whole set here, which I intend to have a go through at some point. The most important thing to note about House of Night is that it’s all set in the House of Night Campus, a school for…
Vampyres. Yeah, I know, there seems to be a typo on the word vampire, but the whole series revolves around a girl called Zoey Redbird and her adventures as one of those who have been marked. Being marked in this series means you’re basically a chosen one for the vampyre goddess. This series is full of blood (obviously), sex and rather graphic descriptions of what’s going on. Oh, did I mention that this series also did manage to get a #1 best seller as well, back in 2009? So it can’t be that unknown, right?
8) Battle School – Ender’s Game
The only orbital school in our list, this space-station was designed to teach strategy in zero gravity, to identify a true leader, someone who could truly win a war on a galactic scale with vast gulfs between worlds as their battlefield. Through team games to shockingly (almost alarmingly) accurate simulations, the brilliant are whittled down to the exceptional, and from the exceptional are drawn the almost unnatural, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin.
Set in a future in which humanity was brought to the brink of extermination twice by a race of alien insects, the response is nothing short of utter obliteration from the human military force, but after surviving the impossible before only the impossible would do in retaliation. As such, Battle School is made to find the very best of the very best. While a better job could have been done in presenting the novel’s themes on screen, a fine job indeed was done of showing the educational space-station and the life and death lessons learned therein.
7) Highschool of the Dead
If you enjoy The Walking Dead and only wish you could see a bunch of heavily armed school children who look like teens and young adults deal with the collapse of society in a world overrun by the shambling corpses of the dead then look no further. Highschool of the Dead features exactly such a band of survivors on their twelve episode and one OVA journey through a world infested with zombies, brought low by the corruption that dwells within all of us, and features absolutely no fan-service whatsover, none, it is not that kind of anime.
Alright so it’s Left for Dead meets Dead or Alive with a crate of military grade guns and a rather extensive bath-scene. Anime, can we not have a zombie apocalypse without you boobing things up? Still the kids make it though alive… ish, and it does make you wonder what Fujimi High School is teaching it’s students.
6) Unseen University – Discworld
Sat amidst the economic trade hub Ankh-Morpork is the world’s premier arcane education and research facility. It holds the largest collection of books, enough to collapse normal space and enter into the strange sub-dimension lined with bookshelves connecting all libraries. The High Energy Magic Building is a gigantic centre for wyrd science, containing a self-upgrading computer named HEX. Even the rubbish dump around the back is a micro-economy called the Unreal Estate.
As a locale for most of the world’s magic it’s also a centre for a lot of major plot points, such as the rise of the Sorcerer, a spawning point for idle thought manifestation, and time travel! Oh and also the tallest building on the disk. Wizards of UU are generally an amiable bunch, prone to between-meal meals and the odd bout of world-saving, so if you’re in a pinch that’s looking likely to get apocalyptic on some level, there’s a place in the city you can always rely on for help, eventually.
5) Third Street Elementary – Recess
This is almost entirely a nostalgia entry for us, we may have to do an entire piece of Recess itself one day because just describing the school will never suffice.
We follow the stories of the allied band of misfits as the strange dynamics of the playground turn into epic dramas of monumental scale, the social hierarchy is exerted to the fullest extent, and games get all too real. King Bob sits atop his climbing-frame throne as a figurehead to the shadow-government of the Ashleys clique, savage kindergarteners and withdrawn Pale Kids, all under the tyrannical gaze of Ms Finster and her cringing pawn Randall.
It’s a dynamic world to cram into a twenty minute play-break, half hour lunch and the brief spaces before and after school, but Third Street Elementary shows us a world in which all of life’s trails and nuances are boiled down to simple play, and it’s done so rather brilliantly.
4) Whispering Rock – Psychonauts
Busted down for not having much of a campus to speak of, absent of classrooms and main-halls, instead find a mess room, tree-house, boating lake and geodesic psychoisolation chamber. Normal summer-camp stuff. Still it’s a place of guided learning, with teachers who are experts in their field leading a class of students through a series of important lessons for aspiring psychonauts.
Lessons include mental infiltration, telekinetic levitation, in-brain combat, conspiracy unravelling, and psychoactive healthcare and un-lobotomising the lobotomised. No lanyard making or canoeing lessons, no sir. Even fishing is a little “different” but when you’re in the preliminary stages of joining an organisation of telepathic secret agents you cannot expect a typical summer camp experience.
3) Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma
Shokugeki no Soma is a culinary school which see’s the best chefs in Japan (and further afield) come together, in the name of excellence. From people who have been part of a long line of prestigious restaurant chains, to women who can certainly handle meat better than anyone could imagine, Shokugeki no Soma is an exciting look at making food. I’ve not been this excited to see people cook since the classic TV show Ready, Steady, Cook!
Our protagonist is Soma, who comes from a small cafe. The other students see Soma as uncouth, a little brash and all in all, not worthy of their school. Of course, Soma has to realise his own shortcomings as part of the show, but he’s all about providing nothing but the very best. Even if he didn’t want to go to the school himself. Oh and if you’ve not seen this show before, this is the anime that brought some of the rudest food related gifs to the internet. Like the one above!
2) Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters
Who studies on a campus with a stealth jet under the basketball court, a lethal semi-sapient training room, and a massive telepathic amplifier in the basement?
The school for gifted youngsters is incredibly selective in who it permits to join, indeed it might very well be the most discriminating learning institution in the world, as applicants require a specific genetic distinction that sets them apart from the average person. “Gifted” refers to superpowered mutants, the kind of kids who can turn their skins to metal, phase through walls, fire concussive light beams from their bodies, or teleport.
Mundanes need not apply! This is no mere place of learning but also a place of shelter and respite, the one campus that can earnestly be considered a safe space, practically a fortress for the heavily persecuted against mutant race.
1) Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Hogwarts is of course going to be our number one pick on Top 10 Schools/Colleges. Think about what the entire premise of Harry Potter is about – And to make it even better, this last Friday, our meetup theme was Harry Potter. So yes, we’re a little bit Harry Potter mad at the moment, but you can’t really expect anything below to have beaten the one and only school for Witchcraft and Wizardry, now can you?
From Argus Filch who is one of the sleaziest caretakers you’ll ever meet, to the grand headmaster Dumbledore, this school has it all. Teachers with agendas against kids who have wronged them and of course, the typical awkwardness of teenage dancing. Yes, Hogwarts truly has it all – and then some! From house elves to owls, parchments to howlers, this magical school was honestly an intriguing and entertaining world – and I’m really looking forward to Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
It’s not so elementary, my dear reader, as we’ve come to an end of the bulk of our Top 10 list. But as per usual, we feel the need to enlighten you all some more with extras. Things that we feel should be mentioned, but not necessarily worth going onto our list.
If any of you have seen this film, you’ll know it’s downright pure cheese and you’re questioning my sanity for even mentioning this film. The truth of the matter is, I’ve not even seen it, but from what I’ve seen of the story behind it and from what I’ve heard about it, I think it kind of deserves the mention. You see, this isn’t any ordinary school, it’s one that supports the education of super heroes.
Young Will Stronghold is the son of two of the most famous superheroes of all: The Commander and Jetstream. Will however doesn’t have any powers of his own, at least none that have yet awakened. We’re treated to a pure cheese fest where bully kids treat him like an outsider due to his lack of powers and a bunch of Will’s friends. It’s goofy, it’s basically gorgonzola, but it’s actually quite a clever play on the superhero niche.
Those of us who grew up with Flash games by the man who made Newgrounds, Tom Fulp, will be very familiar with this title. It was bloody, it was insane, it was outright despicable when it came out, but we all absolutely loved how devious it was. From threatening to cut off male genitalia, to kids shooting one another up, this was a downright bloodbath of a Flash game, before they became huge.
Sure, it certainly wouldn’t make it onto our Top 10 list, as it’s not quite got the edge, but this game was sick for something so accessible… And we loved it. Yes, it’s violent, yes, there was a real education system in there… But ultimately, it becomes nothing more than a glorified arena. It’s a real bloodbath, with unsettling themes. You can check it out for yourself here but be warned, it’s not for young audiences.
Ultimately the test in knowing if a school has been good is how memorable it is – and if there’s something the above has taught us, there’s little as memorable as some of the great schools we’ve mentioned in our Top 10. Of course, memorability is one thing, but being an educational institution is the most important criteria of being a school. Having a school which is entirely dependent on actually educating its students is kind of why we’ve picked the ones we have. So then, it’s time for you to pick our next Top 10!
Now kids, don’t forget to stay behind after class to give the teacher your coursework. This time, you get to grade the grown-ups, as we are passing the conversation back to you. What do you think of our Top 10 Schools/Colleges? Do you think we were right in our number one pick, or is some of register jumbled up? Are there any finer establishments you could think of than the ones above? As always, share your thoughts in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.
This is something I’ve had on my mind a lot lately. I’ve said it a few times now, that there are some fantastic female actors in the industry but sadly very few are receiving the opportunities to play the kind of characters they deserve. I’ve heard the role of female characters described as “being there for men to talk to”, being treated as the subject of exposition rather than the object. It’s something I observe infrequently, but I do find myself thinking that I rarely see a female character who stands apart, someone that I want to discuss at length after the film is over.
So I present a few quick case studies of the portrayal of female characters, good and bad. (more…)