I was hanging out at a beach bar early one Friday afternoon (as you do!), and I couldn't help but notice that the musicians in the live band were very young... many of them pre-teen! It turns out that all of these kids were students of Green School.
They exuded a deep sense of self-confidence and an energizing lack of inhibition, very rare for a group of children this age. Many of them were also very accomplished musicians and dancers. I was intrigued, and I couldn't help but wonder if it was their school that was responsible for cultivating such apparent self-worth and talent.
I did some research and discovered that the founder of Green School, John Hardy, did this TED talk about the school:
Even more intrigued, I set up a time to go and visit it.
Green School is a non-profit school in Bali, for kids from pre-kindergerden through high school, whose goal is to educate for sustainability and empower its students to be creative, innovative, green leaders. Green School is largely off-the-grid, uses renewable energy, and its buildings are made from renewable local materials like bamboo, grass, and mud. The "heart of the school" is thought to be the biggest bamboo structure in the world, and it really is an incredible sight.
Green School is located near Ubud, on the Ayung River, and when you're on the premises, you really are in the jungle. I can't imagine how a child wouldn't benefit from spending their days at school in this sort of environment. It was so simple, and yet had such obvious benefits - fresh air, beauty, nature...
Our tour guide was a past student of the school, and he explained that Green School encourages its students to consider three underlying questions when making a decision: is it local? are you being guided by the environment? and how will your grandchildren be affected by your actions?
He also explained that the school has eight core values: Integrity, Responsibility, Empathy, Sustainability, Peace, Equity, Community, Trust. I was inspired by the school's focus on a holistic education that goes beyond just passing exams.
"We are building Green School to create a new paradigm for learning. We want children to cultivate physical sensibilities that will enable them to adapt and be capable in the world. We want children to develop spiritual awareness and emotional intuition, and to encourage them to be in awe of life’s possibilities.” Green School Founders, Cynthia and John Hardy.
Not every parent has the option to send their kids to a school like this for the simple reason that very few exist, but one of my biggest take-aways from the experience was how important it is for us to teach our kids these lessons at home. I really admire Green School for taking on the challenge in the classroom, and based on the kids that I saw playing music in that beach bar, they're definitely doing something right.