The Real-life Hogwarts? Inside The Secretive 'Scientology School' Where Students Are Taught Through Clay Modelling And Staring Matches
But for years, the 'Scientology school', the Delphian, in Sheridan, Oregon has largely remained a mystery.
Now former students are speaking out about the controversial $42,000-a-year school where the unconventional curriculum includes learning through clay modelling and students are encouraged to report each other for breaches of the school's extensive list of rules.
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Secretive: The Delphian School, in Sheridan, Oregon, has largely remained a mystery since it was founded in the 1970s
Personal study: Much of the learning is done in individual work spaces rather than classrooms
The 250-student boarding academy, based in an old Jesuit monastery set on an 800-acre hillside campus, was founded by Scientologists in the 1970s.
It does not have academic accreditation and its unorthodox teaching methods, inspired by L Rob Hubbard, have been rejected by mainstream education experts.
In a series of interviews with The Daily, former students said that the curriculum is based around an invention of the Scientology founder called 'Study Tech'.
It revolves around three main principles – all educational problems arise from misunderstood words, abstract ideas need to be shown in pictures or clay to be understood, and students should not progress in a subject until they grasp each step.
Education: Former students said that the teaching involves drills called 'training routines', which include staring matches
Passing resemblance: The secluded woodland surroundings have made many students compare the school to Hogwarts in the Harry Potterfilms
Sing it: Students from the school perform in the choir
Students told the website that much of the learning comes through daily manual labour and hands-on tasks, with a particular focus on clay modelling.
Unlike mainstream schools, students learn through personal study rather than in a group.
Instead of classrooms student have their own spaces where they work through checklists by themselves.
'Supervisors' as they are known circulate through the personal study areas to give guidance and individual tuition.
The school also teaches through a series of 'training routines' or 'TRs'.
Tough: The school has a set of strict rules and the disciplinary system relies on peers reporting each other
Learning: Students pay $42,000-a-year to attend the Oregon boarding school
Picturesque: The 800-acre campus is set on a hillside in Oregon and has been compared to Hogwarts
One example of a drill given was a task in which students are required to sit still for two hours and stare at each other.
If students flinch or slump they are made to start again.
Another drill called 'TR-7: High School Indoc' teaches students how to make people do what they are told.
'You learn to control your body, and to control other people's - so you don't feel shy about pushing someone, or getting someone to do what you need them to do,' one student told The Daily.
'It starts simple. You tell him to look at the wall. If he doesn't, you try to make him look at the wall, physically.'
The school has a set of strict rules and the disciplinary system relies on peers reporting each other.
Curriculum: Students said that much of the learning comes through daily manual labour and hands-on tasks, with a particular focus on clay modeling
Mixed reaction: Former student both praised and criticised the school for its preparation for adult life
Sex and drugs are banned, along with casual Fridays, public kissing and facial hair.
Students called 'rovers' are responsible for helping to catch rule violators.
'It was a very fear-oriented student life,' one student who went to the school in the 1990s told The Daily. 'Students were encouraged to tell on other students.'
The names of students who have broken rules are listed on a sheet called the 'Golden Rod' along with details of their violations.
Many of the school's graduates have gone on to successful careers as computer programmers, designers and filmmakers.
Sky Dayton, the founder of Earthlink and Boingo, went to the school.
But others have complained that it left them unable to work in the outside world.
'I came out of that place barely speaking English. I'd be at home, and I felt so different from everyone in the wog world,' one student told The Daily, using the Scientology word for mainstream society.
The controversial school is soon to be accredited for the first time. It is in the final stages of becoming a member of the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools.
The previously secretive school has posted a video on YouTube, in which current students are shown praising the school and even comparing it to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books.
'Things are kind of magical,' says one of the students.
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