The Green School in Bali, Indonesia
Whilst I was at the Ubud Writers and Readers
Festival 2009, in October, I had the privilege of being invited to visit the
Anyway, I could write a very technically correct article about the Green School in Bali but you can read all of that here:
I’m going to focus on my impressions.
The location and architecture of the school are
Car park -- SUV's do make sense here in Bali, but not in Chelsea, London.
Inside the bridge
The Principal is Andrew Dalton. He used to be a teacher somewhere in the
The children seemed really happy, engaged, and
upbeat. There is no hint of gang culture, bullying or shallow materialist/fashion competition. The older children play
with the younger children, without this being considered ‘un-cool’. Very importantly, the staff also seemed very
content, committed, and not in the least disillusioned or tired.
The atmosphere in the dining hall was very relaxed and the food was absolutely excellent: healthy, appetizing and visually attractive. This was a far cry from my days of ‘school dinners’ and competition to get the fish and chips before they ran out.
Ron told me something really exciting. Whilst the school currently draws on electricity from the local grid, it is planning – through a combination of hydro-electric, solar and wind power generators – to become self-sufficient in electricity, and even to become a net contributor to the grid.
Whilst it’s true that the
Green School is a private fee-paying school, with a large number
of relatively prosperous foreign families, 20% of the places are given to local
children on full scholarships.
When the children were being taught, ‘Where does
chocolate come from?’, they personally performed the entire process
themselves: growing the beans, harvesting, crushing, extraction, fermentation,
drying, milling, pressing etc, to
produce their own chocolate bars. And
all without any machines.
The students even built their own common room, getting deeply involved in the design and build process.
Despite this ‘hands on’ approach to learning about things you and I might take for granted (I thought chocolate came from supermarkets), there is no less emphasis on academic subjects: English, maths, science and so on, and the curriculum meets the standards required to achieve rigorous and internationally recognised qualifications.
Why can’t every school be like this?
I’m not suggesting that every school in the world can be built of bamboo, but I do believe that every school could adhere to Green School principles – a holistic environment where the children feel safe and nurtured, the staff are happy and feel appreciated (and safe!), there are no gangs, tribalism or bullying, and the rounded education includes development of the capacity to think, to have compassion, and to actively work to protect and sustain our fragile planet. From some quarters, such views would get me called a naive dreamer, an irresponsible hippy, or a socialist or communist.
But looking at the children and staff of the school,
gazing at the environment, and breathing in the magical atmosphere, I say,