Kiran Bir Sethi


"We have lied to our children: they are not the future, they are the present"

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My name is Kiran Bir Sethi and I'm from India. I originally trained to be a designer. When I worked as a designer 26 years ago I was a recent mother. When my son started school aged five, I thought the teachers would love him as much as I did. However, I soon realized that this was not the case and that at school he was just another pupil. I knew they wouldn't understand him, so I decided to do something about it. I could just have put him in a different school and left it at that. What I did instead was think about starting a school myself. So, that's what I did. I started a school at my house and my aim was to help children be able to say "I can" and be treated as individuals. I converted my house into a school 16 years ago.

I still remember a lot about the first children who came to the school. Almost everyone learns to say "I can't". At school we're taught to listen to adults, not to have ideas and to sit down all the time. This is something children are made to do for fifteen years. Later, we're surprised when they're not creative, empathetic or responsible, but this is how we've taught them to be. The aim of the school that I founded and the Design for Change program is to promise each child that they have the ability to do things and realize that they can do this today.

The Design for Change initiative is currently operational in sixty-six countries, including Spain. Here, a group of young superheroes aged six, seven and eight years old have built a golf course in their school.

"Just as we train the muscles of our body, we need to train the muscles of the 'I can' superpower and empathy"

We are the only species on the planet capable of critical and creative thinking. We are the only species on the planet that can empathize. And that's what makes our species unique. However, it's something that must be learned. Which is what Design for Change is all about. We need to be more human. We need to have citizens with humanity. That is what the world needs. You are wonderful. you automatically think you're not as good as them; therefore, it's better to criticize them. When I look into a child's eyes, I remember the time I was seventeen years old and first arrived at my design school. I felt I was alive for the first time. My teacher looked at me and listened to me. This had never happened to me before. I didn't know what it was like to be listened to.

Design For Change is like a recipe, a formula or a framework. Design For Change involves four simple steps:  feel, imagine, do and share. We call it FIDS for KIDS. That's the English acronym. Each step equals something, like a formula. When you get a child to "feel, imagine, do and share", you see that they are more able to believe in themselves because they have chosen to act on what concerns them.

Educator and social entrepreneur. Founder of the Design for Change (DFC) model, a movement present in more than 60 countries reaching over 25 million children. The aim of the movement is to link what children learn in school to helping communities improve by following four simple steps: Feel, Imagine, Do, and Share. This initiative has been highlighted by the United Nations in its Global Goals framework.