At The Green Free School in Copenhagen, Denmark, students practice the art of sustainability. In 2014, Danish filmmaker Phie Ambo in collaboration with American translator Karen MacLean founded the school with the vision to educate kids about their planet “and how we as human beings exist together. I couldn’t really see that happening in the Danish school system.”
As the bell tolls, children either get busy with urban farming or soothing meditation to cymbals’ sounds. Instead of rushing to class or reciting in front of a blackboard, they practice mindfulness, greenwashing and “green transition” to build a safer earth.
Students are constantly pushed to explore the interrelated ways through which nature functions. The curriculum is involved in identifying the systematic pattern hidden inside the world. Outdoor classrooms are integral whereby students are engaged in project-based learning and design thinking. In Green Free, blackboards are redundant and teachers busy students with the nitty-gritty of a thriving ecosystem.
Students experience growing vegetables, planting new plants and learning about changing climatic patterns. Academic goals centre on growing edible mushrooms which will benefit students coming from different economic backgrounds. Besides history, science and maths, students are part of a wonderful curriculum where they practice growing own food with bare minimums.
Sustainability Not Without Challenges
Presently, the school itself is built on a polluted site in Copenhagen. Although children strive to reduce its toxin by growing certain plants, the site reeks of industrial chemicals. For the lack of formal examinations, parents withdraw their wards from continuing further. Infrastructure also fails to support children with learning disabilities. Founders Ambo and MacLean are nonetheless focussed on their objectives.
“We’re saying to the students, ‘Be critical, think for yourself and do what you want — but we want you to make the green transition. That’s a challenge,” Dorthe Junge, principal of the Green Free School.