We Get Greener Kit Cassingham & her Bigger Half

Green Schools

Teaching the children about the environment and the world they live in is something I'm passionate about. Educating the Children was one of the first articles I wrote for my article site -- EcoNomicallySound.com -- intended to educate hoteliers about the hows and whys of greening their operations. John and Cynthia Hardy are acting on their convictions, echoing my plea to get the kids involved in learning more than just the basics of language (English in this case), math and science. The kids are also getting creative arts (artistic and social learning), along with green studies (nature, ecology, environment, sustainability -- hands on). That's what Green School in Bali is about.

If you haven't discovered TED yet, you owe it to yourself to learn about it, and add it to your "watching schedule". TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. Their annual conferences -- four different themes, each with their own conference, so far -- are four day events filled with 5-20 minute talks by visionaries from all over the world, talking about a wide range of topics. I follow TED on FaceBook and watch many of the videos they share as their "Today's Talk" highlight.

TED is how I found out about John Hardy and his Green School. This TED talk (see the various videos on the right side of the screen), out of TEDGlobal, spurred me to do a bit more research. His story isn't about being a greeny much of his life. It seems to be Al Gore's fault John started down the green and sustainable path. After watching an inconvenient truth he and his wife decided they had to act to protect their children's and grandchildren's-to-be futures. And at the same time give back to Bali, the place they now call home.

The Green School program is focused on "whole-ism" -- educating the whole child (and the adults who are learning alongside them). In addition to a standard curriculum, the faculty is teaching local techniques in construction, gardening and farming, and cooking. With the holistic approach the kids, and adults, learn, eat, and play together.

Rather than confining students and teachers in boxes for 181 days each year, they are housing students and faculty in sustainably built structures that have a very small carbon footprint. The buildings are made mostly of bamboo in a traditional Bali manner. And there are no boxes of buildings.

The complex is a double helix design, and flows beautifully across the land. For starters, the building have natural light, are cooled by the natural breezes that flow through, and are serviced by composting toilets to conserve water. A "vortex" will soon be producing much of the electricity this compound of school, gardens and homes needs.

Some of the lessons learned include replacing the canvas & rubber skylights that were destroyed by the sun with traditional plastic skylights. Petroleum isn't necessary for roads or sidewalks, they are using lava and gravel instead, both locally abundant. While nobody wanted to talk about the composting toilets, they are working well and taking care of everyone's needs.

The agricultural endeavors are beyond those I've seen in my limited and sheltered world. They are learning how to raise and care for a water buffalo and cow, pigs, and gardens. They are raising the food they eat daily.

The kids are learning the world isn't indestructible and are provided a wide range of life lessons. There are 160 kids from 25 countries, with 20 percent of the students being Balinese kids on scholarships. John, and the school administrators and teachers, think of the Green School as a green vortex that's teaching kids how to live on this earth, kids who will be spinning out at the top one day. And wherever they go they'll take these wonderful lessons with them.

Furthermore, John feels this school program is a model for the world. He says it's doable in your community -- that it's a model for the world. He admonishes that all you have to do is follow three rules:

  • be local
  • let the environment lead
  • think about how your grandkids might build

There are others doing green schools too, like the Green Schools Initiative -- a truly amazing exciting initiative -- but my imagination is captured by this Bali school. I found links to green schools in Baltimore and Oregon, and the Green Schools Alliance. Wow, people really are educating the children with the basics and the environment. As long as we don't mess it up before the next generation gets to be our age, John Hardy and the others, will have helped make a big difference to the planet and its inhabitants.

While my goal is to green my life so I can live a greener, healthier and happier life, I find that I am also doing it for future generations. I don't have kids, so it's not technically my kids or grandkids I'm striving to help and protect. It's the children of the world, our future generations, I'm caring for.

I hope you'll join me. Help make your local schools greener and teach kids how to walk gently on the earth.


Like you, I don't have children of my own (though I love my now-grown stepsons and have a beloved niece). And so, like you, I have time that parents don't have and have committed it to help green the heart of education. You and your readers might enjoy checking out GreenHeart Education at greenhearted.org. Thanks for caring about the kids and their future!

GreenHearted at January 2, 2011 10:16 AM
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