Innovation That Matters

Happiness school

New school bases curriculum on happiness and community

Work & Lifestyle

A weekday boarding school opening outside Chennai, India, in 2020, prioritizes wellbeing over test scores and provides village-like living and learning spaces.

Designed by a United States architectural firm Kurani, the Riverbend School planned for the outskirts of Chennai, India, will look more like a village than a set of traditional classrooms. The founders of the school are entrepreneurs. They point out that many of the jobs of the future have not been invented yet, something the current education system has yet to acknowledge. With the current educational syllabus still using learning by rote, more and more people are beginning to question whether it is at the expense of other skills and knowledge. Of particular importance in holistic wellbeing (the core tenet of the new curriculum) is education in the arts, agriculture, environmental wellbeing and community.

The school will be for 300 middle and high school students. It will consist of a variety of buildings built in the style of a traditional Chennai village. Farmland will form part of the school and its upkeep will be worked on by the students. The ocean will create a natural boundary and the overall curriculum will be student-led. The founders of the school see tutors acting more as mentors than traditional teachers. Faculty will help students learn by guiding them through explorations of the subjects that are of interest to each individual. There will be lab and performing arts spaces, as well as a meditation lake and a range of communal spaces. Construction is planned to begin in late 2018, with the first intake of students moving in sometime in 2020.

Wellbeing continues to gain momentum as more and more people incorporate it into their lives. Education may be one of the most effective places through which to reach young people. An online game helps students learn techniques for taking care of their mental health, and a variety of projects teach complex subjects by doing, rather than listening or reading. How could innovation help make often expensive, experimental schooling more accessible to a wider community?



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