July SEL Champion of the Month: Juliëtte Schraauwers
Here at iMPACTFUL, we’ve started an initiative to highlight leaders making an impact in Social and Emotional Learning. Our focus is to highlight what we like to call our “SEL Champion.” We pick our champions by finding people who are doing great work and carrying the conversations forward about social-emotional learning. Our SEL Champion of the month for July is Juliette Schraauwers, a visionary for earth.
Juliette is one of the lead visionaries for a new school concept in the Netherlands, they’ve titled Now School. NOWSCHOOL is a private learning community where students, teachers, parents, volunteers, and specialists all study alongside each other to learn about life. The NOWSCHOOL taps into a child's innate imagination and curiosity to encourage them to become more holistic thinkers and doers. The goal: to nurture the change makers, that children already are, the young kids of our world, have so much knowledge, ideas, and creativity that is so unique for the world, and they need a space where they can express that.
Our VP of Education Sales, Dr. Amber Gunner was able to virtually sit down with Juliette to discuss her vision of the future, the NOWSCHOOL, and what she believes the importance of Social-Emotional Learning to be.
Juliette begins the conversation by discussing her inspiration for the NOWSCHOOL. Years ago, she visited The Green School in Bali, a school located deep within the Indonesian jungle, surrounded by nature. Kids are taught a holistic education with nature at the center. After visiting this school, Juliette knew she needed to start something similar back in her home country, the Netherlands. Although NOWSCHOOL does not physically exist yet, it’s a concept with a large amount of support behind it.
The NOWSCHOOL’s journey started via a LinkedIn post. Juliette was “surprised, and still is today, of how many love letters [she] received from parents and teachers who want to get invaded in [the NOWSCHOOL], who are looking for alternatives to the regular school system.” A common theme within these letters and the school systems in general is frustration. It is so difficult to find a school or education within the regular system that offers a holistic approach to education. Through her outreach, Juliette realized that there were so many people willing to put in the time and effort to create this new type of education.
In the Netherlands, it’s much easier to start a “regular” school funded by the government. The difficulty here is that then you have to teach what the government wants you to teach, and you have less educational freedom to stray from the already written out curriculum. This limits the opportunities to give students the education that Juliette believes is needed in the world. The alternative is to start your own school, which is what Juliette is trying to do. The difficulty here is that you have to ask parents and teachers for funding since you no longer are working under the government's reign of power. This is the challenging part, funding. But the end result seems worth it to so many, to give children back their learning freedom.
But it doesn’t just stop at school. Juliette dreams much bigger than that. Through the NOWSCHOOL, she also aims to create business models around the school so parents can also be invited to learn and engage with the students in projects, also to organize educational courses for teachers outside of school, etc.
“This world really boxes things in separate containers. So we have work, we have our home, we have our children, but we need to go back to the era of community. Working together and belonging to something bigger than just yourself so that you can understand what you’re part of, and if students/parents/educators know that they’re part of this, this is what they’re going to take care of.”
Community is what Juliette is trying to get back to. Not just community in terms of students, parents, teachers, educators, learners, family, but also nature as part of that integral community. She says , “because vagueness is what we are part of, if we look through the lens holistically, we can also see that nature is part of our community” and says that it’s extremely important to raise our future “children holistically so they can grow up to become holistic thinkers and doers.” This can impact the world in such a positive way that we’re not even aware of right now because there aren’t many schools that emphasize this holistic approach to education.
If we look back, science has proved that learning in nature has so many benefits in terms of mental health. Learning in nature helps you connect to others. But Juliette is “not just looking at what science is telling us today, and I don’t think we need more reports online to tell us that nature is good for us, now [the challenge is to] integrate it.”
“I really believe that education is the seed of change… education is the foundation that nurtures all of us”
Check out the NOWSCHOOL’s website to learn more by clicking HERE; check out Juliette’s website with information about her, and her future projects by clicking HERE. Thank you for listening and we will see you next month!