Is it a spaceship made out of bamboo and grass? Flood-proof housing in the shape of a cupcake? A love song to the double helix?
It’s a school! I am enchanted by this gorgeous wonderland of bamboo, gardens, and goats. It truly looks like nothing I have ever seen before. If I went to school here, would I ever want to go home?
The Green School is the brainchild of John Hardy, an undiagnosed dyslexic who, growing up, struggled academically and frequently cried all the way to school as a child. After creating an internationally recognized jewelry business and expecting to quietly retire, he saw the Al Gore documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, and decided with his wife, Cynthia Hardy, to do something to leave a better world for his children and future generations.
They created the incredible bamboo Green School in Bali, Indonesia.
The classrooms have no walls. The desks are not square. In addition to normal international school subjects, everyone also gets to plant, harvest, and cook organic rice. All students plant bamboo and have the opportunity to harvest it and build with it. There’s no concrete. The toilets are composting (and surprisingly cute). These kids are leaving and breathing sustainability.
There’s a buffalo, pigs, a school cow, and 20 acres of gardens that feed 400 people lunch every day (cooked with reclaimed bamboo sawdust, no less)! A unique water vortex generates hydropower. And even the blackboards are made out of bamboo. It’s all a way to communicate the idea, as Hardy puts it, that the world is not indestructible.
Hardy talks about how he went to a school that was built by the same people and with the same materials as the local jail and insane asylum. He points out that students spend 181 days each year inside of a box. Hardy decided to create a school that is NOT a box, that bears no resemblance whatsoever to a jail or an insane asylum. A school where kids do not have to be inside a box literally or metaphorically.
I have never seen a school design demonstrate this philosophy so dramatically and so beautifully. In my own work with students, my goal is always to mentor them as a whole person and help them learn in whatever way works best for them. When I look at photos of this school, I’m overcome by a feeling of openness. I’m uplifted and inspired by this school’s vision.
When sustainable living is approached as a pain in the butt or a deprivation, it will never be embraced on the scale it needs to be. But when it’s approached so imaginatively, who can fail to be intrigued? Who would choose to go to school in an air-conditioned box when they could be learning in this gorgeous, light-filled space?
I’m also totally thrilled for my friend Elora Hardy, director of Ibuku, the company that designs the gorgeous bamboo furniture used throughout the school. I love these designs! Way to go, Elora, creating all this gorgeousness!!
Is multi-sensory learning hardwired into our humanity?
Self-taught heroes: William Kamkwamba, the boy who harnessed the wind
Encouraging independent problem solving (subliminally?)
Self-taught heroes: Pearl Fryar