The objective that the students of Estado de Israel School in Valparaíso chose is very specific: they want the elevator of the school to start working properly again, so that Ignacio, a student of seventh grade who is in wheelchair, can move around easily. “What made me and my colleague happier is that the decision of the students shows empathy and inclusion, spirit we are trying to inculcate”, explains Ivonne Matsumoto, teacher of the institution who also tutors the students on this project.
The initiative started from the attendance of this teacher to the free online course “Design for Change”, organized by Fundación Chile on the online portal Educarchile and Design for Change Chile. This mirrors the creativity and innovation model of Design for Change, methodology developed in India by Kiran Bir Sethi and oriented to generate changes in communities, starting from the efforts of the students themselves.
Through a collective participation experience, children and teenagers can develop projects to improve their environments, taking into their own hands situations that affect them on a daily basis.
“Through a collective participation experience, children and teenagers can develop projects to improve their environments, taking into their own hands situations that affect them on a daily basis”, explains Francisca Petrovich, creative editor of the online portal Educarchile and the course coordinator.
The education model is based in design and has four steps: Feel, Imagine, Make and Share. After discovering the problem and imagining the answer, teachers and students must assume the task, come to a solution and share it. In order for this methodology to be successful, participants must be willing to comply with 3 central principles: empathy, collaboration and experimentation.
For teachers participating in the course, this experience has enabled them to know new aspects of their students. “It was quite impressive the general agreement between students about how uncomfortable they feel regarding bad habits related to the garbage disposal in their school. More remarkable is that each one of them assumed their own responsibility”, tell teachers Carola Chávez and Jazmín Villablanca from Colegio Fraternidad in San Pedro de la Paz district. “Besides that, quickly appeared leaders, executors and all the actors needed for a team work”, added.
This methodology not only has impacted in the classroom but also in the school community as a whole. “Our children feel so committed with change that have motivated their classmates, parents, teachers and friends to help them. We have had big support from parents and teachers boards” says teacher Luz Ramírez, who participates in this course from Bogotá.