For most of our Bali trip we kept an open agenda, weaving our way through the untouristy areas of this beautiful island. But, we’d earmarked a visit to The Green School, south of Ubud, before we’d left England!
This school is pioneering a fresh approach to education that every educator today should stand up and take notice of, and every parent should be prompted to ask whether their countries national curriculum allows for this kind of learning.
Imagine this if you can: a school nestled in the jungle, without walls; a bamboo-built campus of numerous imaginative structures, which allows teachers and children to have the freedom of open spaces, not confining learning to any one ‘classroom’; an abundance of areas – from gardens and trees to amphitheatres and lofts, where children’s natural curiousity and enthusiasm is encouraged; a place where learning, innovation and creativity stems from the children, who are learning through doing, trial and error, discussions, drama and large projects, with no barriers or boundaries to what they can try; a community of people, from locals to parents, who come together to make a joined up learning environment where all are involved in creating a vibrant and happy school.
We were impressed by student-led projects such as: the bio-bus – recycling cooking oil and making fuel for community buses as well as body wash/soap; the recycling bank – children have taught the locals why recycling is good (waste management is a problem), and developed a scheme to support them; and the aquaponics system to recycle rainwater for plant growth to use in kitchens.
Their main mission is to educate for sustainability, through community-integrated, entrepreneurial learning, empowering children to care about the world they live in, take responsibility for the environment, and empower them to make a difference. They are guided by three simple rules: be local, let your environment be your guide and envisage how your grandchildren will be affected by your actions.
We can’t compare this school to anything else; it’s not a forest school or a Steiner environment. They have built a curriculum, taking international influence, and are inspiring a love of learning by making it fun. And, of course, they are lucky to have a jungle as their playground!
There are so many impressive bamboo structures, but the one we loved was the bamboo bridge, spanning 22 meters across the Ayung River, built by locals and students!
We were lucky to stay at the school’s Student Village whilst we were there. Basically, beautifully crafted bamboo lodges with no windows and outside bathrooms and compost loos, like glamping in the jungle!
It’s good to see an example of a school that is passionate about its values, and will put them at the forefront for the good of the children and the future world they will live in.
We also love that this visit inspired questions and conversations prompted by Lola and Albie about learning: what is it important to learn, how do we learn best, the importance (or not) of tests and exams, how is learning different around the world, etc.
We’ll finish with this plea: please read more about The Green School and decide if there’s one small thing you can do: if you’re an educator, is there a project your children could come up with in your class/at your school to make a difference (picking up litter, creating a recycling ‘bank’ for art supplies!); if you’re a parent, what could you inspire at home?