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In our world, everything comes from nature. In all humans exists an innate desire to connect with our natural environment. Our children are growing up in the Anthropocene era, the newest geological era. A period in which human activity has been identified as the dominant influence on climate change and the environment. Living in a world where we feel and live with the consequences of climate change has led many people to look for sustainable living choices and a desire to teach our children a new way forward.
Part of this awareness is educating for the globally recognised Sustainable Development Goals. 17 Goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 for achievement by the year 2030. A call for action by all countries to promote prosperity and protect our precious planet. Goals include ending poverty and address issues of education, health, social protection, employment, climate change and environmental conservation. They are a blue print to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
Change, for the future of our children, is being born from seeds of hope planted in education. As every generation evolves so too does the type of schooling we want for our progeny. Forging a new path in learning are pioneering educators determined to lead the way to a greener future through Green Schooling.
Green School is an Arcadia of universal education that reconnects students with ecology. Learning practices are deeply embedded in nature and sustainability, a utopia of learning in the heart of natural paradises.
Children of today have had their consciousness awakened like no generation before them. They are aware the stewardship of our planet rests on their shoulders. They recognise that our Earth has finite resources and for humanity to survive and prosper we must start to live within our planetary boundaries. Education is key, shown in the emergence of the Green School movement. These schools teach a new way of living, with the lightest of footprints, sustainability and innovation at the forefront of every lesson.
Founded by John and Cynthia Hardy in 2008 their Green School Dream was realised, opening in Bali with 90 students and growing today to a current student body of 500. Now it is called “the small school that got big”. Families and students seek out Green School and come from all over the world to attend, with 42 different nationalities enriching the school community. Located just south of Ubud in Bali, near Denpasar, the school is in the jungle of the Sibang Kaja Village along the banks of the Ayung River.
Known as the Greenest School on Earth after winning a 2012 award with the same name (bestowed by the United States Green Building Council) Green School Bali offers progressive education at it’s finest. From Pre-Kindy to High School students are immersed in nature, classrooms are without walls and the buildings have been mindfully made from local sustainable bamboo. A 22-metre bamboo bridge crossing the river is symbolic of the dream to reality ideal of Green School. The design concept of the school was to “create spaces without walls that would invoke the feeling of a cathedral of learning, with the conscious choice use of beautiful, sustainable materials. The Heart of School would be a temple to both education and sustainability, and the spirals would symbolise the inspiration found in the beauty and harmony of nature."
Living in a rapidly changing world where technology enables us to innovate and evolve at a frantic pace, Green School aims to empower children for the world of the future as they live it in real time.
The “Green School Way” is to prepare for the real world by being involved in it now; to have impact now; to take responsibility now; and to model and practice the skills and mindsets that we will need later on, now.
Entrepreneurial learning and hands-on experiences are imperative to the curriculum of Green School, working in harmony with three over- lapping learning principals: skills, values and academics. Skills to enable us to be lifelong learners. Values to instil positive ownership of learning to make a difference to community and environment. Academics are the disciplines needed to translate our learnings. Learning is guided by three beliefs that underly every decision –be local, let your environment be your guide and envisage how your grandchildren will be affected by your actions–, rules to live by. “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.”
Students at Green School are entrusted to be changemakers and encouraged to be green leaders. The Green Projects Hub is a space for young people to support, collaborate and solve real problems in the real world following sustainable development goals. Students work on projects such as the 2013 Bye Bye Plastic Bags, a student-driven social movement to ban the use of plastic bags in Bali and beyond. 2014 saw the BioBus project up and running, powered by used cooking oil. Green Gen (the first delegation of Green School Green Generation student activists) headed to the COP (UN Convention on Climate Change). The school has also hosted renowned visitors including Dr Jane Goodall and the UN Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon.
Being a part of the school is not just for students, families are wholly embraced into the community. Green School offers parents and carers a space to connect with others who share similar beliefs and sustainability-minded ethics. Green School’s latest project emphasises the need to find your tribe, collaborate and connect with other like minded members of your community. The Bridge is a new coworking and learning space for the community, local neighbours, educators, staff, teachers, parents and tour guests, all are welcomed. The Bridge enables professionals to connect and work alongside each other to inspire and encourage innovative ideas. Project outcomes focus on nature, economics, society and wellness. With such inclusive attitudes and practices, it is no wonder the Green Movement is gaining in members and blossoming all over the world.
Celebrating a decade of Green School, 2018 saw Green School Bali honour it’s 10 year anniversary in green education. 2020 promises the opening of Green School New Zealand and contracts have been recently signed for Green Schools to be built in Tulum (Mexico) in 2021 and Cape Town (South Africa) in 2022. The Green Movement is put- ting down firm roots across the globe for sustained growth in the years to come.
As parents of children who were students at Green School Bali, Michael and Rachel Perret could see first hand the life-changing experience and benefits of a Green School Education. So inspired, their passion grew to share the Green School Dream around the world, starting with GSNZ. Located in unspoiled coastal and mountainous regions you will find a school in the sky with a green heart. Filled with joy, connected to nature, nurturing creative thinkers and sustainability for future changemakers. Connected deeply and richly to the natural environment, students will learn Māori cultural values intertwined into the spirit of the school, grounding us in the whenua, the land. Most importantly, Green School students cultivate a love of learning as a lifelong pursuit in and of itself.
We had the privilege of asking Rachel Perret Co-Founder of GSNZ three key questions about the Green School Movement.
We visited Green School Bali with our children and were captivated by what we experienced. We watched our own children, and many others, come alive with confidence, awareness, happiness and presence while at Green School Bali, which gave us a great desire to make the same opportunity available in our home country of New Zealand. When children’s imaginations are fully ignited, they’re guided to find a meaningful purpose and given the confidence to live it every day. Personally, I am passionate about bringing joy to education. It is absolutely unacceptable for our children to simply “survive” through their schooling years. Every child should experience the love of learning, and how incredible that feels. That is what Green School provides.
Green School is about purposeful learning. Our children don’t need to question why they are learning something, because all learning is linked to real life scenarios. Our thematic learning programmes are based on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Our students are constantly thinking about the world, not just the zip code they live in. They are thinking in systems, they learn that every country has different barriers to achieving their goals, whether it be environmental, political, geographical, skills shortages or whatever. They learn that we must live in a circular economy, and they create the systems to make that happen. They become very aware of who they are, and what impact their decisions make on our world. They are extremely aware, they are risk takers, change makers and they are problem solvers.
They don’t just learn what subject they are good at, they learn how to learn best for them, and that knowledge can then be applied to any situation, multiple industries and careers. Green School students still learn the critical elements of maths, science, literacy etc, but Green School focuses on HOW these subjects are taught.
We are not yet open (opening Feb 2020), however, we are incredibly proud of the global community we are already developing at Green School New Zealand. We are building an amazing staff who have common goals and a true passion to teach and lead the Green School way. We have a wonderful neighbouring community around us who are supporting what we are doing, and we can see some absolutely incredible parents and students coming through our enrolment system, all of which makes us incredibly proud and excited for what is to come.
Our GS Global Support Office director Karan Khemka has been opening schools for 17 years and said the response to Green School New Zealand since we announced the project, is like nothing he has ever seen.
Words: Julia Henry