Opened to its first ninety-eight students in 2008, the Green School in Bali, Indonesia, is built almost entirely of bamboo and powered by solar panels and a water vortex turbine.
“The classrooms have no walls. The teacher is writing on a bamboo blackboard. The desks are not square. At Green School, the children are smiling.” – John Hardy, Founder of the Green School
John and Cynthia Hardy, the couple who founded the Green School, came to Bali with no intention to become involved in education. However, motivated by Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” they used the proceeds from their jewelry business to create a sustainable environment to educate the world’s future “green leaders.” Children of twenty-five nationalities attend and the student body is twenty percent Balinese children, many of whom are on scholarships.
I discovered the Green School through my father, who went to college with Chris Thompson, the current General Manager. Arriving just as classes let out, I caught Chris for a brief chat over coffee.
Chris came to Bali with his family to enroll his two children in 2010, at first only playing a small consulting role for the school. The first thing I noticed after arriving was how immersed the school was within the forests and Balinese communities. I’d spent so much time in the urbanized, commercially-oriented city of Kuta that I wondered where unexploited Balinese culture was. Amidst the rice paddies and bamboo, just outside of Ubud, the Green School blended right in to the environment.
The Green School is an amazing place. The campus is gorgeous. Each classroom, the administrative building (called “the heart of school”), and even a 23 meter-long bridge, are constructed artfully and almost completely of reinforced bamboo. There are student-maintained gardens that produce organic vegetables and most teaching materials are recycled, such as whiteboards made from car windshields.
Students at the Green School experience an education based on holism, which focuses on the “spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical” components of development.
Integrated subject units provide students with opportunities to learn about mathematics, science, language, literature and art, but also beyond, about useful skills such as how to grow, harvest, and cook rice.
As they came out to meet their parents after classes, the students, who range from pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade, wore wide smiles. It may have simply been an end of the day rush, but judging from the enthusiasm of both my tour guide and a teacher I conversed with, it is seems that the children are immersed in an entertaining and gratifying educational setting.
Now 300 students strong and with a reputation as the 2012 “Greenest School on Earth,” the Green School is growing and graduating young adults with the tools to become well-rounded, eco-conscious leaders.
John Hardy’s TED Talk about the Green School can be accessed here.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Esme_Vos