Now that I’m a parent and my kid will have to go to school next year, I’m thinking about his future. How will he grow up? Will he be happy? Will he be bullied? Will he be bored? And after watching these really inspiring talks by Sir Ken Robinson (this one and this one) and Logan Laplante, I asked myself if my son isn’t happy in the public school system, would I consider an alternative to help him grow up into an authentic and happy adult? Let’s be honest it’s not an easy decision and I don’t have an answer yet.But I’m on the lookout for any innovation made in the education sector and I stumbled upon a great school in Bali. So the odds are pretty good I’ll ever end up moving there. But I thought I had to share it with you, as well as its founders journey.
Green School Bali
“And here it is, it’s called Green School. I know it doesn’t look like a school but it’s beautiful, sustainable and we teach children that the world is not indestructible and that they can make a difference!”
John Hardy, Founder of Green School
Green School is an international preschool through high school in Bali, Indonesia founded in 2008 by Cynthia and John Hardy. It is basically the greenest and more sustainable school ever. Buildings are made of bamboo, a local, natural and renewable resource. All the greenest practices you can think of are implemented there : compost, solar powered and hydro powered energy (90% of the school’s electricity consumption), growing its own food in its gardens using biointensive and permaculture, etc. That’s why Green School Bali is the inaugural winner of the “Greenest school on Earth” award from the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council in 2012.
But ecology also is at the heart of the curriculum. Kids are learning about the environment and how to protect it. And more than their ecological values (that are great and I’m totally thrilled by), it is their educational practices I’m impressed with. The curriculum is based on multiple intelligence theories, and kids are trained to solve problems and not only asked to pass a test. They are growing up using and valuing all parts of themselves : their minds, bodies, creativity and critical sense. To study science, they’ll solve a really concrete problem such as finding a solution to get the school off the grid.
You can learn more about the school in this TED talk.
Following their own path…
It is really interesting that John Hardy wasn’t any good at school when he was young. He was an undiagnosed dyslexic, and his teachers and parents considered him a failure. He eventually attended Arts College where he thrived.
At the age of 25, he decided to leave Canada and travel the world, not knowing what he would do. He eventually settled in Bali where he met his wife Cynthia. Together they eventually turned the local Balinese tradition of weaving and jewellery design into an international luxury brand. When John was the creative mind, Cynthia was the pragmatic and practical one, his right hand. From the onset, their interest in the environment and sustainability was implemented in the company practices and policies. “Greener Every Day” is a company slogan and is mainly done by planting bamboo to reduce its carbon footprint.
John and Cynthia sold the jewellery company in 2007 to fund their new projects: Green School and its affiliates. Because what I find interesting in the Green School project is not only the school. It is also its intention to give back to Bali and innovate.
John and Cynthia initally wanted 20% of the students to be local, so they set up a fund to pay for their tuition. They haven’t yet managed to reach their aim, but 30 indonesian kids already benefit from the Green School education. Another affiliate, The Meranggi Foundation supplies local Balinese farmers with bamboo seeds to grow. The foundation then buys the mature bamboo from the farmers, providing a livelihood and allowing for the supply of bamboo it requires for the building of privately commissioned homes and large projects such as the Green School. And the last affiliate project is Ibuku, a for-profit design and construction company that promotes the use of bamboo as a primary building material, in an effort to avoid the further depletion of rainforests. It is directed by John’s daughter, Elora Hardy.
… and overcoming failures
John Hardy obviously followed his own path guided by his values and passions. But this was not easy as he shares in this fascinating talk he gave in 2014 at C2 Montreal about failure. A must watch: http://www.c2mtl.com/video/conference-john-hardy-2/
To learn more :
Green School Bali : www.greenschool.org
Ibuku : www.ibuku.com
Meranggi Foundation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30UyQ_pJJsw