What is the Green School Curriculum?

In Bamboo News, Education, Sustainability, This Is Green School

REAL world learning for the 21st century

Never has the gap between what education offers and what the world needs been greater. The pace of change is rapid. Jobs are changing, new opportunities are emerging and access to information has never been greater. The very way in which children learn is also changing.

The pursuit of more global, real and student-centered learning is a hot topic in education.

Over the past 10 years, Green School has been designing and developing a learning programme which combines deep and strong roots with an ability to bend like bamboo.

How exactly do we do that? Do we follow a prescribed curriculum? In a word, no.

Green School students learning Green Studies in the garden.
Green School students in the garden.

While many take comfort in known, tried and tested curricula such as [insert example], Green School has pushed and pulled against cookie-cutter approaches to learning. Focusing on prescriptive, written curriculum leaves the whole truth untold. If you look at a curriculum, you will notice boxes. Ticking off those boxes with very specific lessons, assignments, tests, worksheets, and learning standards necessarily confines learning and leaves off creativity.

Every time Green School has felt itself drifting towards those curricula with their boxes and constraints, we deliberately pivoted to find our direction again. That has led us to the Green School Way. Our teaching philosophy and method, the Green School Way, was created and reviewed between 2008 and 2018 by all, and we mean all, members of our community of learners in some way or another. It is strongly rooted in our REAL pedagogical principles and hands-on learning programme, which ultimately aims to support the development of powerful learning mindsets, joyful personal qualities, and life-long skills and competencies.

The Green School Way has strong roots to sprout a grove of green leaders for generations to come.

Much like Facebook’s former move fast and break things mantra, we believe education needs an agile school to shake things up. We don’t follow a curriculum. We design one. Ongoing and tailored to our learning community.

Green School Primary Science Class
Green School Primary Science Class

Green School has built its learning programme on the belief that the child has to be free from fear before anything else can be achieved—free from the fear of failure, the fear of being themselves, the fear of the learning process. They have to be confident, calm and happy to thrive at school. This is fundamental to learning, evidence-based and yet is often juxtaposed to the physical spaces and box-ticking approaches still evident in many schools today

By creating a strong sense of community, emphasising the relationship between students and teachers and designing learning with the child at the centre, we can increase wellbeing and reduce fear. The Green School Way can support high school students, off timetable, to collaborate, pitch ideas, and start activist projects together. We can let a seventh-grade class start a salsa sauce business to benefit children in West Bali. In the process, students delegate roles, learn about procuring ingredients and jars, sanitization, distribution, advertising, business, and responsible social media campaigns. Our students team up on big and beautiful bamboo constructions. They build pumps and turbines for energy and serve as ocean ambassadors. And, we stand back and marvel when a third-grade class constructs ladders to rescue frogs trapped in man-made ponds.

High School students designing and building the Energy Hub roof
High School students designing and building the Energy Hub roof

Melati Wijsen ‘18 summed up our teaching on the TED stage in 2015. “We have learned that kids can do anything,” she said. “We can make things happen … Kids have a boundless energy and a motivation to be the change the world needs.”

The Green School Way is not to fill a bucket, but rather light a fire. We endeavor to teach students to “learn how to learn.” Most importantly, we aim to instill in our students a love of learning as a passionate pursuit in and of itself. Green School rests on a simple belief that we are all innately passionate and curious, life-long learners.

To that end, we allow learners big and small to explore real-world ideas and issues within a mission-driven focus. We believe learning is most impactful when it is real – this is central to The Green School Way.

So, if anyone asks – what’s the curriculum at Green School? Just tell them, Green School keeps it REAL.

Green School Primary students and teacher
Green School Primary students and teacher

REAL learning at Green School follows these principles:

Relationship-centered

Green School prioritizes and sustains relationships between all learners, their environment, and their community; our programs are holistic and engage the whole person including social-emotional, intrapersonal, intellectual and kinesthetic connections.

Green School students learning the IRESPCET values
Green School students learning the IRESPECT values

Experiential

Green School’s framework for learning supports experimentation and reflection on successes and failures; Green School anticipates and adapts to the evolving needs of learners, their environment, and community; change happens in a sustainable way.

Authentic

Green School prioritizes interconnected experiences driven by real-world needs and the prospect of a sustainable future; The world is a diverse and complex network of systems, and our programme, community, and environment embody an integrated, systems-thinking approach.

Green School students visiting a local school in Bali
Green School students visiting a local school in Bali

Local

Green School acts locally first; we immerse learning in our immediate surroundings, culture, and community and then we think global.

Ensuring we keep it REAL, sometimes, just sometimes, our students also sit down at their desks to absorb lessons like algebra.

Learn more about Green School Learning Programme at www.greenschool.org and join our Open Day on January 26, 2019.