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 InstituteÂ for Humane Education in Surry, Maine. Her educational philosophy is to teach students to become problem-solversÂ and toÂ “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 InstituteÂ for Humane Education has focused on offeringÂ graduate programs for teachers, but the new school willÂ â€śbe a prototype and proving groundâ€ťÂ for their educational method. The InstituteÂ has already set up a steering committee for the schoolÂ andÂ Bill Gladstone has been selected as foundation principal. Gladstone states:Â â€śOur world at every level â€“ from the family on up to the planet â€“ is really struggling and suffering.Â Itâ€™s the future generations that are going to have to wrestle with the problems weâ€™re handing down to them. The only way theyâ€™re going to do that effectively is if theyâ€™re knowledgeable and skilled.â€ť
The Solutionary School will be an independent day school andÂ is also intended to be used as aÂ community center.Â Depending upon the final facility selected,Â it will utilize green building techniques. There will also be a school gardenÂ to enhance students’ understanding of theÂ connection between diet and health.Â Weil told the Portland Press Herald of the school’s planned vegan cafeteria: “EverythingÂ in this school will be aligned with doing the most good and the least harm.Â 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. WatchÂ 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 schoolÂ is scheduled to openÂ in the school year commencing September 2016.Â It will begin with pre-KÂ toÂ 6th grade classes in the firstÂ year. Over the following three years itÂ will developÂ 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.Â The InstituteÂ is currently raising money for the project, developing a curriculum and searching forÂ a venueÂ and staff.
Photos by Institute for Humane Education via Facebook