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Coconutty Classes

Originally appears in the Spring 2013 issue

When a picture of an open air school such as ours is shown to people, most don’t realize that the greatest environmental impact on the students occurs in the space between the buildings. It is in these jungle spaces that Green Studies is commonly taught. A mix of environmental science, sustainability studies, and agriculture, Green Studies are an important part of Green School. But they are not the only distinguishing factor for this bamboo-based learning center.

In 2012, Green School adopted a concept called the 3 frame day. This form of teaching marries holistic learning with a more academic approach to teaching. The first part is the most unique: the thematic lesson. Then, in the heart of the school day, lies the proficiency block. This is an allotment of time that allows students to work predominantly on Mathematics, English, and Languages. Each day generally concludes with experiential learning: whether planting gardens, creating artwork or working on enterprise projects.

A thematic approach to subjects is not new, but thematic lessons at Green School differ in that they attempt to address students’ 4 key intelligences: interpersonal, intrapersonal, intelligence, and kinesthetic.  All our themes pertain to the natural world and our relation to it. As the Green Studies teacher, one of my favorite themes to teach is about coconuts.

It is said that Indonesian islands are all dependent on the BBC. No, not the media outlet, but bamboo, bananas, and coconut. These three plants can provide food, shelter, and water with ease to those living in the tropics. For example, the coconut has dozens of practical and ritualistic applications across Indonesia.

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Noan Fesnoux is a Green Studies teacher at the Green School located near Badung, Bali, Indonesia.