We know that the 5th of June had recently passed, but did you also know that it was World Environment Day? Since it began in 1974, World Environment Day has been the United Nation’s most important day for promoting awareness and action on issues affecting the environment. This year’s theme is connecting people to nature, so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to talk about The Green School, an innovative all-grades school in Bali. I chose to introduce this school to you not only because of World Environment Day, but also because education is so important to us here at Moeloco. As you may know, one of the reasons why we donate shoes through our flip flop sales is to allow street and slum children into school, as wearing shoes is compulsory.
Imagine a school where values are integrated into the curriculum, values of sustainability, empathy, community, peace and becoming a leader in your own right. Where children are educated in a community-integrated, entrepreneurial manner, in a wall-less building right in the middle of nature. This is The Green School. Instead of rote memorisation, children learn by doing, their natural curiosity is stimulated, and innovation and creativity are just as important as established facts.
The Green School was first conceived in 2006 by John and Cynthia Hardy, after both spending many years in the jewelry business. They had spent years homeschooling their daughters, and wanted them to go to a real school – but one that they believed in, and one where they would not have to move from Bali. Soon after, John and Cynthia also watched An Inconvenient Truth, and were compelled to take his message and put it into action. The Green School opened in September 2008 with 90 students, and although it has achieved so much, this has all come after a very rocky start. In its first year, the school lost 90% of its students, as lack of experience meant that they failed to match parental expectations.
Now, The Green School has grown to over 400 students, has former students attending university, and stands as an amazing model of education for sustainability. Even the materials it is built from are recycled or eco-friendly, and electricity comes from renewable sources. Families from around the world – from Indonesia to Australia to Scandinavia – are moving for their children to attend, whether for a year or their whole school life. .
You can see the Green School values from the very beginning of preschool education, where children learn the arts with an emphasis on Indonesian culture, to cook both Indonesian and Western dishes, to recycle and to plant and harvest food. Of course, primary education and beyond does involve academic subjects such as maths and literacy, but entrepreneurial thinking, environmental sustainability, practical skills and the arts are always incorporated. More “intangible” skills, such as communication, collaboration, decision-making and risk taking are never forgotten, either. What has been forgotten is the “age cage”, allowing students to mix more freely between grades and ages. The emphasis on learning through fun, practical lessons even extends to maths and science lessons, with one lesson on fractions being conducted by making pizza! In fact, when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon visited, he called it the most “unique and impressive” school he’d ever seen. Richard Branson said that he had never been more jealous of kids in his life!
And of course, John and Cynthia Hardy have their own “dream crazy”, just like I do! Theirs is to spread the Green School model throughout the world, with more locations in other countries being proposed. Their wish for the world is also that environmental sustainability becomes the norm, not the exception.
Our new collaboration partners Nalu, another amazing social enterprise who we are soon attending India with on a giving trip have been attending the school now for four years and love it! Dali and Finn Schonfelder have said that the best part of going to this school is that they teach you to think outside of the box and make a difference socially or environmentally.
I shall be sharing more on these two amazing children who are now 16 and 13 soon. Nalu are taking the world by storm with their clothing business that gives children school uniforms in countries like India where families cant send their children to school if they can’t afford to buy a uniform.
Watch this space.