The Green School in Bali
Inspiring the next generation of Environmental Activists
When it comes to raising the next generation there is a strong drive towards teaching children to be more environmentally conscious and doing their bit to sustain the plant. Schools around the world are increasingly aware for their role in society and are collectively raising the bar of what new models of education should look like. Take Green School in Bali, for example. This private school in Indonesia boasts jungle yurt classrooms made entirely from renewable materials, an organic garden and buildings that are powered by hydro-electricity and solar panels.
Located in an underdeveloped and natural area of gentle jungle in the Sibang Kaja Village, this site is farmed and landscaped to make it an environmetal haven and a secure place for its students to connect with nature. Students learn in wall-less classrooms immersed in the lush island vegetation, and take excursions to surrounding farms, beaches and local sustainable businesses; following a curriculum rooted in creativity and exploration.
Green School was conceived in 2006 by John and Cynthia Hardy following their exit from their Bali-based jewelry business. After years of homeschooling, the Hardys wanted their daughters to attend a ‘real’ school, one that they believed in, whilst staying in Bali. At the time John and Cynthia saw Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’ and after reading Alan Wagstaff’s “Three Springs”, were so compelled to bring forth a positive change in the world that they were inspired to follow their own dream and create the school they had envisioned.
These events gave the Green School plan its reason and purpose, and in August 2006 John and Cynthia decided to build the school. By November 2006 the School’s bamboo bridge, spanning 22 meters across the Ayung River, was completed in thus creating a beautiful, strong symbol of the transition from the realm of idea to reality.
Two years later, in September 2008 the Green School opened with 90 students and a tailor-made campus that emerged from the jungle and rice fields. Since then it has grown to 400 students and to an inspiring example of education for sustainability. From the beginning, John and Cynthia’s approach to business was about being respectful to Bali’s land, its environment, its people and its culture. It became their mission to share with others the educational benefits that they were fortunate enough to provide their children, and Green School is the realisation of that vision.
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“We are building the Green School to create a new paradigm for learning. We want children to cultivate physical sensibilities that will enable them to adapt and be capable in the world. We want children to develop spiritual awareness and emotional intuition, and to encourage them to be in awe of life’s possibilities.”
This new model of education based on the natural curiosity of children, the love for the environment and supported by an inspired community of people that come from all-over the world; is committed to bring forth a change. The Green School core values are educating for sustainability, respect for the natural environment and making empowered decisions to help create a creating a community of learners to make our world sustainable. Their graduates will become the green leaders and change makers of the future. The schools mission is to highlight the innovative people, places and technologies that are paving the way to a more sustainable future.
Photo credit Getty Images
We’re highlighting the innovative people, places, and technologies paving the way to a more sustainable future.
Green School absorbs and respects the rich culture and customs of this island, which is known for its inspirational creativity. Quickly becoming a model for holistic, sustainable, education, it is attracting a number of International learners (many from North America and Australia) and empowering them to share their passion, individual talents and commitment to creating a sustainable life. Green School’s staff and teachers come from all corners of the globe.
In John’ s words “We are gifted with a pool of talents passionate to progressively advance the education system.” To reflect this, one of the aims of the Green School is the promotion of their intern and volunteer programme. In the program, individuals exchange knowledge about new paradigms in education, nature, global citizenship and how these topics relate to others as well as to themselves. The central goal of the Green School intern/volunteer programme is precisely to provide what they preach: an invaluable opportunity for learning and sharing for all members of the local and international community.
John and Cynthia Hardy have taken their vision of holistic education and applied it to the architecture of Green School. In practice, this is developed by the daily interaction with nature. John describes this process clearly: ‘Day-by-day, our community develops a strong bond with nature. By making it part of who we are, we feel inclined to nourish it, compelled to respect it and empowered to care for it now and forever.’
The Green School was built with an appreciation of sustainability. Equipped with 118 solar panels, an on-site perma-culture farm for healthy cafeteria fare, a rainwater filtration system, buses that run on used cooking oil, and even a sewage system that recycles waste back into the soil as fertiliser, it is a nearly self-sustaining campus. In addition, the campus boasts a mini hydro vortex, a water filtering station, a waste management centre, and an acquaponics and compost station. This supporting infrastructure of the campus and local community enables to bring the Green philosophy and approach to living into people’s everyday lives. This enables an active understanding and participation and puts into practice the underlying sustainable thinking process and journey to sustainable living.
“At Green School they teach to ‘study, work, live, and play with an awareness of the impact of our thinking and decisions.”
Green School Founders John and Cynthia Hardy and children.
The school’s green studies projects coordinator Noan Fesnoux describes the curriculum as based on three frames of learning: proficiency, thematic, and experiential. She explains that ‘The thematic frame is integrative, taking a topic and exploring it from all viewpoints. For
example, for a unit on hydroelectricity, we incorporate geography through looking at dams around the world, physics through concepts like pressure and electric generators, social studies through stories of displaced families, and environmental science through impact studies of dams.’
In July 2010, John Hardy was asked to speak at TED about Green School, receiving a standing ovation. “Green School is a model we built for the world,” John explained in his Ted Talk. “And you just have to follow these simple, simple rules: Be local, let the environment lead, and think about how your grandchildren might build. For me it’s just the idea that, if this little girl graduates as a whole person, chances are she’ll demand a whole world—a whole world—to live on.’
It becomes clear that living a sustainable lifestyle is a process of learning by doing. Education is essential when it comes to practice what you are taught from an early age. Although, many things need to change to lead a life that is more integrated with the natural systems that surround us. The most important change that can lead to living an authentically sustainable life is a change in our mindset and habit patterns. We hope that the Green School’s model will become the norm and not the exception.