I had the good fortune last week to spend some time at the Green School in Bali, Indonesia. It has attracted a lot of publicity of late from the likes of CNN and ABC (Australia), amongst others, and not without good reason. It is probably as good an example of authentic learning as you are ever likely to find, and according to the founders, John and Cynthia Hardy, it’s about children experiencing the ‘physicality of greeness’. The school does not have any courses that focus specifically on sustainability because simply by attending, students are living and breathing what it means to be sustainable.
Set on 20 acres, the school’s buildings are constructed entirely from bamboo, lalang-alang grass (a local grass), and mud bricks, and the campus is powered through renewable energy sources such as solar power, biogas, and micro-hydro power from the river. The ecological footprint of the school is pretty close to zero as it functions in perfect harmony with its environs, an organic permaculture system — cultivated and managed by the students — providing a source of food and a sink for recycling waste.
The Green School is a fee-paying international school and it opened its doors to students in September 2008. It currently has 17 different nationalities including Indonesians who can take advantage of scholarships. It ultimately plans to move towards the International Baccalaureate curriculum, and while this will require the study of traditional subjects like maths, science, a second language, and the arts, the principle of sustainability will remain at the heart of the curriculum. In the process, graduates of the Green School will be supremely well-placed to provide the kind of leadership that is required in a post-industrial, ecologically sustainable society.