When Kiran Bir Sethi was disappointed with her son’s education, she decided to leave her design firm and undertake an entirely new pursuit: creating her own school. The Riverside School, located in Ahmedabad, India, is different from other institutions because by using design thinking principles, it gives students responsibilities in crafting their education and designing their school. From school uniforms to architecture to curriculum design, students have a say in their education. Sethi believes these tasks give students an I Can mindset, where they learn to feel more responsible for their education and believe more in their own abilities.

Sethi simplified the school’s design thinking process into four steps: feel, imagine, do, and share. As such, even the youngest students can understand what it means to prototype and implement an original idea. Riverside School began in June 2001 with 27 children in preschool to first grade. Now, it has over 400 students through 12th grade. Not only that, the I Can curriculum is being used in thousands of schools in over 60 countries around the world.

Do you think children should have control over designing aspects of their education, including the curriculum? Why is creativity an important skill for children to learn? Join the ongoing discussion on Vialogues.

Excerpts from the discussion:

@02:05 Melanie Hering: I absolutely do think children should have a hand in designing their own school experience, curriculum included, because their own motivation to learn will be increased, and I think that's one of the most important characteristics a person can have - a motivation to learn, an appreciation for curiosity. That said, I think a partnership between students and parents is good - adults in that child's life deserve to have a say in what they learn too, as they will have some hindsight and perspective their kids won't have.

@02:05 Morgan Platt: The concept of viewing the student as the primary stakeholder is interesting, but as critical thinking tends to mature with age, I do also wonder whether having younger students so heavily involved has any effect on the complexity of the curriculum. I'd like to see how the instructors guide them through the development process.