The Marudam School in Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. For starters, it’s run by an NGO – The Forest Way – a registered charitable trust involved in education, afforestation, environmental education, organic farming and more. Also, it receives no funding from the government. The school, set in an organic farm and powered by renewable energy, teaches its students about conscious living that respects the environment.
A first person narrative talks about schooling that stays true to the land:
I observed a general sense of well being within the space; a space which is somewhat loosely defined, physically, by the curvy walls, round entrances and some doorless classrooms, but a space that is filled, spiritually, with laughter of children and teachers alike. The communal feeling I experienced in Arun’s home was prevalent in the school where I noticed a caring and nurturing vertical interaction among different age groups. Even though the students have classes with their peers, there are plenty of activities for students of different ages to participate together, starting within the school and expanding from there: for one, the students occasionally take part in caring for the organic fields of the farm to provide as much as 80% of the food served in school; also, they go to a local swimming pool in groups to play and learn swimming from the teachers as well as from each other; then there is the forest-park and the sacred Arunachala Hill, the “Hill of Wisdom,” where they go every week for half a day of group hiking and solitary time, immersing themselves into the generosity of the biodiversity of the place.
The park was once a garbage yard with sparse tree cover before a handful of people including Govinda and Leela (co-founders of the farm school) took over the space and turned it into an expanding forest, albeit through years of stubborn struggles against the tough conditions of the area. Painstaking efforts to plant and protect the trees, as well as preventing fires helped the saplings get a ‘roothold’ on the barren soil, resulting in rapid returning of the forest around the hill. Now they grow more than 100 species of native trees and shrubs in their nursery, constantly adding to the forest. Nearby, an adjoining playground with handcrafted equipment attracts people in hundreds during the weekends, as it is the only recreational space in town. An ongoing construction will turn into a space that aims to connect children to their immediate natural habitat through various exploratory games and visual images.
Read more here.