Making students aware of their value and their abilities
Published on January 16, 2023
According to Kiran Bir Sethi, the headmaster of Riverside School and Design for Change president, all children are gifted with intelligence and capable of learning. Although we all learn at all ages, children are particularly receptive to the teachings received, the values instilled but above all, their environment.
The "I Can" concept is the basis of Design for Change, a 28 000 schools network. It was following an experience with his son that Kiran Bir Sethi radically changed his life and founded Riverside and then Design for Change to make all the children in the world aware that they all are capable of something.
Riverside is a school that epitomizes initiative, optimism and creativity.
Founded in 2001 by Kiran Bir Sethi and located in Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India, Riverside uses a curriculum that explicitly aims for a ‘Humane’ approach. While it might seem like an obvious starting point for a new school, this ideal was framed in part as a criticism: Sethi saw her five-year-old son being introduced to more restricted, old-fashioned learning and wished to re-frame his whole encounter with the classroom.
The resulting curriculum has now been exported around the world to form the basis for many successful projects, all showing the resourcefulness of its originator – Sethi is also a professional designer, and created a popular mobilization of teachers and designers called Design for Change. The Riverside approach is founded on a cluster of concepts called the ‘5 Es’ – namely Empathy, Ethics, Excellence, Elevation and Evolution. This is then put into practice in the day-to-day learning experience through four practical steps, ensuring the Riverside learners Feel, Imagine, Do and Share.
What does that look like? Visiting Riverside, one sees classes with unusual interactions and plenty of vitality. According to Kiran Bir Sethi, it is “a place of immersive experiences – somewhere where the whole act of teaching is co-created with children in a regular, iterative process.”