so many activities

Attendance: 12 from Grades 6-7 (lost two, gained three)

Learning goals: understanding the tensions inherent in working as a team; rapid prototyping as a way of thinking through doing

Activity/ies: Snap-clap-stomp, face cover, empathy sculpt, four chairs

Interesting projects: This whole session was interesting. It was fascinating to see how snap-clap-stomp,which failed miserably in Lunawa, worked perfectly here. The kids were nearly 100% successful at getting their face cover right (and it worked after the swap, too, which is also a huge win). We still had a similar split between those who really enjoyed empathy sculpt and those who were really upset with how the rounds progressed, but this time it was one of the boys’ tables that had had trouble with ‘group’ work. And, finally, the kids put in tons more effort into their four chairs, and actually came up with a wide variety of designs, unlike in Lunawa.

Insights/surprises: I was blown away by how much we got done today, and the quality of our conversations about each activity. We spent what felt like a long time with face cover, taking pictures, swapping masks, talking about designing for self and others. When we did empathy sculpt, we had an extended discussion about what it was exactly at the boys’ table that led to general dissatisfaction with the final result, the way in which each felt their authorship had been disregarded, and how this sense of disregard came about when they saw each other be careless with their pieces. We were able to compare what kinds of actions (tearing down and completely restructuring sculptures) elicited frustration and dissatisfaction, and which ones (trying to understand what the previous sculptor was trying to accomplish, and empathetically adding to that vision) sparked appreciation and joy. The children also put a great deal of effort into their chair designs, and we were able to have a really effective debrief afterwards.

I was also blown away (as I always am) by Piranavan. He also put a great deal of effort into his four chairs, asking for more time as the children did, and producing really fine work in a short period of time – in many ways he is a more relatable role model to these children than I can ever be, and I am hoping (looking forward?) to create more opportunities for him to connect with these kids. They really need people like him in their lives.

A logistical insight: Mr Krishnamoorthy is a really committed principal. He was here today as well, as was the teacher who sat in on our workshops with her little son. They clearly care about opportunities for the kids, and really go out of their way to accommodate us, and I really want to make sure that programmes we deliver in future are of a high quality and really tailored to their needs.

Workshop feedback: Some big wins today. During our end-of workshop discussion, one said she learned to make things using waste products (referring to the chair they had to make using popsicle sticks and toothpicks), while another said she learned how making multiple versions of the same thing can help you design better. The kids also said they hadn’t really drawn like this before (i.e. sketched quick ideas on a piece of paper) and enjoyed this way of thinking.

Continuing challenges: Written feedback is always less interesting than verbal feedback, so I need to find a scribe (or multiple scribes) who can capture in-person, one-to-one feedback that is interesting and actually gives us a sense of what participants have learned.

Also, travel is really wearing – at the end of the session, I was glad today was my last official day of leading a workshop, because I certainly didn’t have it in me to do any more.

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