Ground-breaking, Maine-based educator Zoe Weil is planning a kindergarten to grade 12 school in New York City. Weil is the founder of the Institute for Humane Education in Surry, Maine. Her educational philosophy is to teach students to become problem-solvers and to “provide every student with the knowledge, tools and motivation to be conscientious choice-makers and engaged change-makers for a restored and healthy and humane world for all.” The Solutionary School is slated to open in 2016, although the location is yet to be confirmed. Read on to see a TEDx talk in which Weil explains her educational philosophy.


Until now, the Institute for Humane Education has focused on offering graduate programs for teachers, but the new school will “be a prototype and proving ground” for their educational method. The Institute has already set up a steering committee for the school and Bill Gladstone has been selected as foundation principal. Gladstone states: “Our world at every level – from the family on up to the planet – is really struggling and suffering. It’s the future generations that are going to have to wrestle with the problems we’re handing down to them. The only way they’re going to do that effectively is if they’re knowledgeable and skilled.”

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The Solutionary School will be an independent day school and is also intended to be used as a community center. Depending upon the final facility selected, it will utilize green building techniques. There will also be a school garden to enhance students’ understanding of the connection between diet and health. Weil told the Portland Press Herald of the school’s planned vegan cafeteria: “Everything in this school will be aligned with doing the most good and the least harm. The cafeteria will reflect those values. We want to have the school model the healthiest, the most sustainable and the most humane food choices.” Gladstone adds: “A vegan cafeteria provides the opportunity to think deeply about a lot of issues, such as where food comes from, how food is grown, the people involved in food production and the health benefits of what we eat.”

This philosophy of understanding the true source of the things one consumes is central to Weil’s educational model. Watch from 8:20 in the YouTube video above, as Weil explains an exercise she undertakes with students called True Price. By breaking down the origins, stages of manufacture and consequences of the production of common items, students gain an understanding of the impact modern consumer behavior has on the health of people, animals and the planet.

The school is scheduled to open in the school year commencing September 2016. It will begin with pre-K to 6th grade classes in the first year. Over the following three years it will develop into a full K-8 school, followed by a high school. The school will also be used to train new teachers in the humane education method. The Institute is currently raising money for the project, developing a curriculum and searching for a venue and staff.

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+ Institute for Humane Education 

via Portland Press Herald

Photos by Institute for Humane Education via Facebook