Themed “CMR For Better Bangalore”, CMR National Public School is organizing a Design Thinking Challenge with the objective to help the differently-abled participate actively in our society. During the challenge, students and teachers work closely, participating in workshops and discussions, to identify solutions to the problems faced by the specially-abled community.
After familiarizing themselves with the tools of Design Thinking and identifying the challenge, students could observe, interact and interview differently abled individuals from the community. This enables students to learn how to conduct interviews, ask good questions that lead them to greater insights and hone observation skills. The first-hand experience helps to sensitise students and helps them develop their empathy muscle.
Empathy plays an important role in the design thinking process. Students get a chance to connect with individuals who face the said hurdles that the challenge is aimed to solve. This helps them find effective and useful solutions and to set aside preconceived notions and prejudices they may already have. By empathizing, students make genuine connections with the stakeholders they are designing solutions for, understanding where they come from, the problems they face. This connection helps them respect the individual’s mindset and beliefs, identify their identity and allows to create holistic, meaningful solutions.
Students get a chance to connect with individuals who face the said hurdles that the challenge is aimed to solve.
Students of Grades VI and above played host to several members from the Diya Foundation, individuals who were very kind to join the children in their classrooms and answer questions about their life, day to day proceedings and the challenges they faced.
Grade ‘XI C’ hosted Mr. Farhan who is differently abled due to his problem of Cerebral Palsy and is a member of Diya Foundation. Ms. Kalpalatha, a facilitator in Grade XI along with her class, interviewed Mr. Farhan, shares her account of their time.
“Before our session with Mr. Farhan, my students weren’t well informed about differently abled people and the challenges they face in their daily life. A few of our children had interacted with them in past; while most were sympathetic, others were not fully aware.
Having received our objective for the design thinking challenge, we had a general discussion on the topic – the children spoke of their experiences with differently abled people residing in same apartment, those who were neighbours and relatives, and some people or experiences that they had read about. As they participated in sharing their personal experiences, I noticed a gradual shift in the attitude of the students, from unconcerned to empathetic.
Prior to our meeting with Mr. Farhan, I had tasked the class to read about cerebral palsy, its symptoms, causes and effects. Our first observation with a couple of minutes into session was that Mr. Farhan was a very happy-go-lucky person, who did not feel bitter about his situation. As the interview progressed, students were enraged to know that Mr. Farhan was in the situation he was in thanks to a doctor’s negligence. Yet he didn’t seem bothered by it. It was deeply moving to see someone face so many challenges in life for no fault of their own!
Mr. Farhan interacting with students of Grade XI ‘C’
His positivity spread smiles across the room, as the students had a great time interacting with him, realizing how happiness is a choice, Mr. Farhan being an astute example of it. They appreciated the trouble he took, to switch between three buses to travel to Diya Foundation every day. He spoke at length about his joy of meeting his friends, even if they lived quite far from his residence. No distance deters Mr. Farhan, as his passion has had him travel to different places, his fond recollection being his visit to Nandi Hills.
Talking about his daily proceedings, Mr. Farhan also shared his take on life, giving students advice on how to face challenges.
He reminded the children of the unconditional love their parents had for them and how they should care for each other, and their friends. They were inspired and touched by his advice, one of which struck a chord with everyone in the class,
“You may fall many times in your life while achieving your goals, don’t worry, get up and move forward always and never put a step backwards.”
At the end of the session, the children felicitated Mr. Farhan, thanking him for his time and advice. After he left, I observed that the attitude of my students had completely changed. There was not a single child in that room who wasn’t in complete awe of Farhan’s positive attitude. Having been sensitized to his condition and challenges he faces, the students exchanged ideas and discussed solutions, now with a renewed vigour, to help Mr. Farhan with his day to day activities.”
Mr. Farhan was one of the many guests who joined us at CMR National Public School, as part of our Design Thinking Challenge. Our students enjoyed their interactions with the individual they hosted in their classroom, opening their eyes to the various problems the specially-abled community face in the society. The next step after this exercise is to gather the facts collected over the interviews and confront assumptions made before. This will culminate in the final Design Thinking Showcase on 25th November where our students will bring their solutions to reality.