“I Say I Can”

‘Reformer’ is the apt word to describe her. She launched an addictive concept called ‘Design for Change’ engaging 32,274 schools and thousands of children back in 2009. Since then, 22 countries involving 250,000 children got addicted to this invigorating idea. Kiran Bir Sethi– founder of Riverside School unravels her idea of education and the role of schools with Francis Joseph of BW Education

Q: What is/should be the purpose of school education in a child’s life?

I think I see a definite shift of those content heavy one-size-fits-all to a more understanding of character.Those are the pieces I say, is like the cement which gets our children to do the bricks and glue them together. The focus on getting children to have content and character and the content of the character- possibly will become  the greatest curriculum.I am not sure the School would be able to keep up to the pace of the content change because that’s really going to be extremely fluid and organic. So the preset socialization will do,and that what schools will be probably left to do, is the act of getting people to understand self and the other.

Q: What is the most critical challenge you face today as a school leader?

The most critical challenge is I think really putting the intention into action on a daily basis. That’s what we have to have - the stamina for leaders. I keep thinking the greatest challenge is stamina. Stamina to do what is right, to ensure that actions are actioned on a daily basis. Common sense becomes common practice. It’s not like once in a week or once in a year-that you have a great idea. 

Q: What do you think will be the role of school in future?

I don’t know whether School has a future. I mean the way schools have been run, that School model does not have a future. I think there will be a self-kind of organised groupings that will probably share spaces where “was”will not be a term of Schooling. So the boundaries are going to dissolve, cities are going to become schools,nations are going to become schools where learning will genuinely start happening with self-organised groups anywhere in the city, because no longer is anybody going to be away from content. So on one end, it’s going to be liberating to learn anywhere anytime with whoever and from the best in the world, as much as to able to recognise what that learning is going to be for.

Q: Your thoughts about home-schooling? 

I am a fan of any kind of engagement with children,whether it’s at home or in any structure of a school or a bus or in a café. I am a fan of the idea of engaging with young minds. The whole schooling concept in a way suggests that parents need to take up the role. More and more young parents want to work because they are educated and competent.Having single children, the responsibility will intensify between parent’s own growth and child’s growth. 

Q: What do you foresee about the role of parents in the school system?

Well, if you look at the current model of how schools run, I think it’s a very important role that should be played and needs to be played. We are on the same team. School and its parents should be on the same team, because with both backing the child, the conversation should be aligned and kicking. The reality of course is quite different,because most often the nit becomes as-and-when,with parent either shying away or being overbearing, similarly schools can be extremely autocratic or hugely democratic.

This article was published in BW Education issue dated 'April 7, 2017' with cover story titled 'BW Education Inaugural Issue April-May 2017'

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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