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Is there another way to educate our children? The Green School way might have the answer

In school we’re given a sort of list of things we need to learn to pass on to the next grade. That is how I learned things work. I saw the needed knowledge handed out by educators in a normative manner, for which we were expected to give a standardized response, to succeed in terms calculated precisely by scores, which gave us our worth as students. Like so, I began to see educators as similar to canteen workers, which hand out a standardized amount of “food” for a standardized sum of money everyone needs to pay.  Giving students input in exchange for their output, standardizing knowledge in exchange for standardized grades seems quite simple. But is this method of “judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree” really all there can be done?

I’ve heard many students comment that it’s difficult to figure out how they will use their attained knowledge from school in Life, with capital L, because teachers would present the knowledge of their disciplines in a standardized manner, and students were unable to put it in real-life context. In addition, there were many lessons that school couldn’t teach us and we still had to learn.

Yet there are many teachers and initiatives that try to attend to this issue and for their efforts and accomplishments they have my deepest respect. One of such initiatives is the Green Schools initiative, presented by Sonia Donca-Bercuci at Romania’s first Peace Forum.

Green School’s holistic approach to eduction allows children to be seen on different levels (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) and the lessons delivered to them are delivered accordingly to their psychological profile. Thanks to this holistic approach which fits their intelligence and personality type, their dominant hemisphere and love languages, and not ignoring many other components that define these children, this school helps its pupils with many crucial aspects that even adults are still struggling with. They learn to understand themselves better from an early age; they are helped to imbed many deep spiritual/moral values and basic knowledge (about geography, things about their culture and history etc.) that provide precious building blocks later on for their identities which will ripen at mature ages.  

This school creates a context where children can develop personally and emotionally, but are also helped with the professional and social spheres. Dreams are pragmatically looked at in the context of how they can be reached; fears are fought with the sweetest method I’ve heard about: relying on a chosen superhero’s strength, who is somehow partially or fully who one wishes to be, that can even help other children with their fears. Trust and relationships are built in order to create a team environment, and also a safe context to share and express emotions (enhancing emotional intelligence). For the social sphere they: create their own rituals and through them learn the importance of rituals, they role-play to understand oppression, they don’t separate kids by age because bigger kids tend to protect the younger/smaller kids, they teach the pupils to learn to respect all living things from humans to plants (which is one of the reasons why they have 80% of classes outdoors), they learn to not put others in gender role boxes, and a plethora of other things.  

The facilitators of these processes that I have just mentioned are key actors: they are the leaders of the classroom, they offer a healthy and strong role model for kids. These children can learn from them through observation, imitation and other latent and direct learning means, which is the reason why they are selected carefully and trained throughout after being selected. Jane Elliot’s “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise shows us how influential a professor’s positive exclamation could be on children’s performance and shows how influential an educator is. We know children do a lot of learning through observation and imitation. Thus by imitating the educator who incorporates the Green school model of education, and who will reward the child when performing in the desired direction, pupils will grow in healthy ways in their personal, academic, and even professional lives.

As Green Schools children reach a mature age they will probably not have to mention their educators mainly being as a canteen worker towards them, always acting in a similar normative manner, ignoring everything else besides giving the input and taking the output. If it must be standardized, I wish the Green School way to become the standard way from now on.

Julia Svedac