Download The most unique school on the planet?
An international school in the heart of a tropical jungle on the Indonesian island of Bali?
The Green School is made entirely out of bamboo set in eight acres of lush jungle.
There are no-air conditioners, walls, uniforms or a scrap of plastic on its grounds.
Instead you’ll find composting toilets and a recycling waste system.
The school for international and Indonesian students is trying to revolutionise the way we look at high-end education.
Rebecca Henschke takes us on a tour of the school.
This is the way the youngest students at the Green School start the day.
They sing sitting on colorful cushions. Their classroom is a bamboo dome with a traditional leaf thatched roof, surrounded by tropical green gardens.
“When something flies into our class room, a butterfly. We get to pick it up and put it on our body and see how that feels.”
Lee Wood is their teacher.
“We are very much one with nature in a way that’s very different from just having a few windows. So I just think that they have the opportunity to become stewards and love nature because of their early positive experiences with nature. And maybe that will change the world (LAUGHS).”
Arriving at Green School from the artistic, tourist hub of Ubud in Bali is like entering another world.
We have come to a bamboo bridge over a raging river. We have come down a winding path to get here and the bridge is made entirely of bamboo.
It’s an amazing entrance into an international school.
“That is what I tell parents that we may not look like a real school but students are here learning maths, science, English and they come to this incredible structure for music, art and drama. We are much more than a hippy school in the jungle.”
In the main structure of the green school, a three-storey bamboo cathedral and the world’s largest bamboo building, sits Ben Tamblyn.
He is in charge of bringing in new students and develops the Green Summer Camps.
Right now there are nearly 140 students
Ben says it’s been challenging to strike a balance between traditional and new ways of learning.
“I think about this a lot. We are trying to do things differently. We are trying to create new ways of learning and educational content itself that will be more relevant to the 21st century and give students both the short term ability to be successful but at the same time this long term ability to think creatively and collaboratively. As a fragile planet we have a lot of major issues that will be placed on the shoulders of our children. I am in my early forties; there might be enough petrol to last my lifetime but probably not for my daughter. So…”
So the Green School is trying to produce students like Louie from Belgium.
He hands out plants to his fellow students to place in the ground in beds around his classroom in Green Studies.
Some of the students want to plant flowers but Louie takes control.
“This is not a set of territories or countries; this is one garden, you don’t own a part you work on a part and we need to work together.”
Louie ‘s father’s job has brought him to Bali. He attended two international schools before this. But says it’s at the Green School where he has found his calling.
“I would like to become a sustainable agriculturalist designer. I believe that this is what the world needs right now because we have become detached from how nature works.”
Louie, like most of the students here, travel the world following their parent’s jobs. Others have moved to Bali just to come to the school.
They wear trendy clothes rather than uniforms.
Critics of the school have labeled it as elitist.
It’s not cheap; a little over ten thousand US dollars a year for high school students.
But there are scholarship programs and twenty percent of green school kids are Indonesian.
In the science lab year nine are learning how to make an electron magnet.
Gika Winda Sayitet Savitei, a Balinese girl with long glossy black hair, is in the back row.
“I used to go to a national school which was really a box but this is a really nice environment and I never could have dreamed of going to school with other students from around the world. So I feel really special here.”
Some of what she is learning is her traditional Balinese culture. Her father is great with bamboo and she has been passing those skills on to foreign students.
Other things she is learning are making her rethink how things are done at home.
“They give me the information about not using plastic and if you go to the market you should take your own bag. So I told my parents to do this when you go to the market. At first they were like ‘oh come on it’s not a big deal’ but I said I am going to do this if you want to follow me you can and fortunately they did.”
It’s lunch time and the students pile into a giant bamboo roofed arena with a clay floor. They eat, together with the teachers, a lunch made mainly from food grown on the school grounds by the students.,
Serving the food is Gika’s mother.
I found the state school system put incredible pressure on the students to perform in exams, she says, and it wasn’t clear what the goal was.
She very pleased that Gika is learning here instead but constantly reminds her of her cultural responsibilities.
“I said you must learn Balinese dance. Don’t become arrogant. If you want to change people’s environmental habits then do so softly by leading by example not by preaching. Hopefully she will not become an arrogant child.”
But Gika already has some high ambitions.
She wants to be the second president of Indonesia.
In the lunch room her mother laughs when I tell her this.
She’s just a girl from the village, she says, but we can all dream, can’t we? I mean Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, was a farmer’s son.
1 What is a Green School?
2. Where is it located?
3. Around how many students study there?
4. Who goes to this school?
5. What subjects do the students study there?
6. Why does Gika like going to this school?
1. lush : subur
2. scraps of plastic : sisa-sisa sampah
3. high-end : mahal
4.traditional leaf thatched roof : atap tradision yang dibuat dari dedaunan
5.entirely : seluruhntya
6. fragile : mudah hancur
7. detached : terpisah
8.scholarship programs : program beasiswa
9,incredible : luar biasa
10.constantly: terus menerus
11. arrogant : sombong
12. habit : kebiasaan
13. preaching : berkhotbah