Welcoming the 3rd Batch

We welcomed our third batch of the STTI Club at Delhi Public School, Hyderabad with a session by Aayushi from Ashoka University.

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What does an intro session look like?

  1. A warm welcome, by college students who know exactly what it felt like to be a school student with lots of questions and lots of ideas
  2. Brainstorming to fill three boxes: what issues and problems do you see around you globally, nationally and locally?
  3. Do we see any patterns between these boxes?
  4. Why is it important to discuss – to Baatcheet – to solve these issues?
  5. Forming an STTI Core Leaders team
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World Bank’s Global Youth Forum 2016 – STTI at Washington D.C.

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STTI was invited to the World Bank‘s Global Youth Forum at their HQ in Washington, DC. As a partner at the forum, we got to share our experiences and learn about youth development from 150 organisations around the world.

 

The forum featured a number of panel discussions and keynote addresses on issues that are most critical to youth development, such as education, employment, security, gender and climate change. Speakers ranged from leaders of international organisations such as the UN and the World Bank, to grassroots youth leaders from Brunei to Brazil, Ghana to Guatemala.

The message we gathered from hearing these speakers was that all of these large social and environmental issues call for youth to actively participate in understanding and solving them. Their involvement in these issues is not a matter of charity or choosing – it is integral to their own well-being and future.

We had the honour of presenting our work at the forum from leaders of educational organisations such as Educate!, the Jamaican Ministry of Education, Ashoka Changemaker Schools and representatives from the governments of Turkey, Brazil, Mali and Cambodia. We talked about the mission and model of Student Think Tank for India’s school clubs. (Click on link to read full text).

These conversations gave us a lot of encouragement, and valuable feedback on how to create the next generation of thoughtful and involved citizens.

We are excited to bring back the learning from this international forum to our school clubs in India, and hope to continue doing justice to the wonderful individuals and communities who generously support us!

 

 

 

Summer 2016: Join us!

Student Think Tank for India started in the year 2014, and was originally envisioned as a network of college students across the world, with the objective of promoting a culture of involved inquiry. The rationale for STTI was that an effective education should include spaces that promote civic engagement and critical thinking – and that if it doesn’t exist, we should create one. The benefits of are wide ranging – be it for personal, professional or civic reasons.

Throughout 2014, as we continued our discussions and research papers, we changed our question to ask: how can we create similar spaces in schools?

Over the last year, we have partnered with schools to set up clubs for students from class 9 to 12.  It’s an open space where we’re learning to raise and answer important questions about social, economic, political and environmental problems. These clubs are led and organised by Moderators, usually college students or young adults. Our model is built on student initiative: participation is voluntary, and we choose topics that students want to talk about (See our sessions on topics ranging from gender to food systems to engineering education). As Moderators, all of us passed out from school not too long ago, and we’ve made a conscious effort to not turn this into a lecture series.

 

Our discussions and activities are interactive – using Project Based Learning, Service Learning and Thinking routines – so that students really think about the issues and form their own interesting questions and opinions. Apart from regular sessions, we often invite eminent guests who conduct workshops, and take part in field trips to observe and understand the world up close.

Annual Update poster(Click on the image to see our annual update of 2015!)

What Do We Have Going For Us?

  • Global network: One of the most prominent STTI chapters is based in Purdue University. Besides this we have active members from UPenn and Cornell University. STTI is supported by professors and students from some of the best universities within the country and internationally.
  • Fast Paced Growth: We started with 2 school clubs in Hyderabad in 2015. Within a year, the enthusiastic response has led us to start 5 clubs in Hyderabad, and new chapters in Delhi, Bangalore and Coimbatore.
  • Recognition from Ashoka India’s first Youth Venture programme, which makes us part of a network of some of the world’s biggest names in social innovation.

How Can You Get Involved?

Currently, we’re looking for Moderators in all 4 cities. As a Moderator, you are required to dedicate a couple of hours a week through June and July. You can be from any stream of study, but the only real requirement is that you bring curiosity, and fulfil your responsibility as an educators: the last thing we want to do is pass on wrong/ incomplete information, or conduct boring and ineffective activities. There will be a short period of training before entering schools, so that Moderators are able to better understand STTI’s structure, and then use it to craft the learning experience in their micro learning communities.

We also invite people who can help bring critical thinking to life by creating session plans for the school clubs — eg: how would we get high school kids to appreciate the nuances of freedom of speech? What instances of pop culture would we use, and how would role-playing an event from history help them to see that complexity? These session plans would be used in our clubs across the country.

What Is In It For You?

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Along with the chance to impact the learning experience of many students and their schools, working with STTI is a frame to explore various professionally valued qualities: research, mentorship, networking, and entrepreneurship. This opportunity is guaranteed to be a growth experience, and is structured as an internship with a letter of recommendation at completion.

What’s the end goal?

All of us at STTI are involved in it because we are convinced that the value of a real education lies in fuelling the inherent curiosity of students. No matter which career students choose to enter, we want that people do so as  engaged and critical citizens – with a basic working knowledge of all the issues that the country faces, so they can channel their energy – in big or small ways – to solving them. And we want to do this at scale. untitled-1

STTI is our moonshot at marginally reforming the education system, one club at a time.

If you share this vision, we would love to hear from you! Write to us at studentthinktankforindia@gmail.com, and explore our past work on the website. If you’re interested in applying to be a moderator, visit this page: https://studentthinktankforindia.com/moderators/ 

Note: Credits to Isha Malik for putting together this great post!

2015 – what did we do?

We’ve had a great 2015, and that’s making us wish for a bigger 2016!

Highlights of this year included – setting up two school clubs, expanding our Moderator team, and a recognition by Ashoka India’s Youth Venture programme.

STTI’s Annual Update for 2015 (click on the image to read it) is a snapshot of where the organisation is right now, and where it aims to go in 2016. There has been an encouraging amount of growth since this report was written – schools are opening up to us, partnerships are being formed, and we’re finding newer ways and ‘why’s of doing what we do.

Thank you for your support in the last year, and we look forward to keeping that up in 2016!

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New STTI School Club at Meridian School, Banjara Hills

We are very happy to announce our second school club at Meridian School, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad!Meridian Banjara

To the students of Meridian – a very warm welcome from us. To start with, here is a welcome post.

For all further discussion, please do join the Facebook group: STTI Club of Meridian School, Banjara Hills. 

You can always contact us with any questions at studentthinktankforindia@gmail.com.

We look forward to a great journey with you guys!

Syrian Refugee Crisis

STTI Club of Delhi Public School, Gachibowli, Hyderabad – Session on October 3, 2015

The refugee crisis presents a massive political, cultural and economic challenge to Europe, and we wanted to understand the situation better. Taking off from the students’ ideas to explore this topic, we started to learn about it. The following video is a good introduction:

We first had a discussion on what citizenship means in two different contexts: to us as Indian citizens, and to refugees who are fleeing from conflicts to other countries with more stable conditions.

What is citizenship?
What is citizenship?

We then split into three different groups to see the issue from three different perspectives:
1. Countries that refugees were fleeing to
2. Countries that refugees were fleeing from and
3. International charitable bodies

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Here are some responses from students after the role-playing exercise:

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Design Thinking with Viraat

One of the projects pursued this year at our DPS, Hyderabad school club was for the Design for Change challenge.

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Design for Change

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To facilitate the design thinking process of Feel – Imagine – Do – Share, we had a session with Viraat Aryabumi, a design enthusiast and techie from CBIT, Osmania University. Students and Moderators alike teamed up to explore prompts and rapidly prototype solutions to get the creative thinking process started.

Some pictures from the inspiring morning at Lamakaan, Hyderabad

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This exercise gave all the participants a lot more clarity on how to define a problem and work towards a solution. The students finalised their Design for Change as this:12108101_978747968833444_2423170102517414686_n

DFC Project

A school-wide forum was created as a solution. It is being used to share books, electronics, and other items amongst a known community.

This project was submitted as an entry for the 2015 Design for Change India challenge.

These were Viraat’s reflections from his role as a Project Mentor:

Design thinking isn’t a set of principles or codes that you strictly follow. It’s a way of living. Many people often mistake design to mean aesthetics. That’s incorrect. Design is functionality – “how it works”. Here “it” could be anything. That’s the beauty of design thinking. You can apply it to any part of your life (if you have an hour or two free, do check out the crash course at the Stanford Design school). 

The aim of the workshop was to introduce the kids to Design thinking as a process that can be applied to any problem that they see in society. We also wanted to help them come up with ideas to participate in the Design For Change competition. It was great fun watching the kids absorb the simple yet powerful thoughts on design. 
The students came up with 4 ideas that they thought were pressing. They followed a process similar to FIDS (feel, imagine, do, share) while coming up with their solutions. They chose a brilliantly simple solution to a problem that everybody identified with, and built a community of people who were willing to share with others the stuff they didn’t need, and take their first steps towards a sharing economy, as opposed to a consumption economy. 

Divided Histories: How can we look at all sides of a story?

Our last session at DPS, moderated by Kabir David, was themed around the question of our divided histories. It was inspired by the work of Chintan Girish Modi from Friendships across Borders, Kirthi Jayakumar’s The Red Elephant Foundation, and The History Project.

The History Project researches history textbooks, and places narratives of a trans-national, shared history side by side, to highlight the commonality of our past, and the contrast in its perception. We introduce questions to highlight embedded biases and activities geared towards understanding competing perspectives. Lastly, we supplement our materials with illustrations to make it more engaging for our readership.”

The History Project – Promo from Qasim Aslam on Vimeo.

Following this session, one student writer Vishwambhar Anand penned down this story, capturing poignantly the essence of divided histories:

There were two friends, Vikram and Aziz, who studied in the same school and lived in the same apartment. Every day after school, they walked home together. One day something happened on their way home from school, and the boys recount the tale to their respective parents.

Vikram tells his parents this: “On my home from school, I saw a brave man who fought off a crazy dog. If it had been me, I would have run away, but this man picked up a stick and fought back, till the rabid dog ran away. The dog must have learnt not to attack humans anymore thanks to that man.”

That must indeed have been a brave man, but let us look at what Aziz has to say to his parents.

“While walking back home, I saw a cruel man beating up a poor dog with a big stick. I wanted to stop him but he was very big and so I just walked away. I am going to exercise and become big and strong so that I can stop people like him from being so cruel.”

So, you have heard two people talking about the same incident, which one of them is telling the truth?

It’s a tricky question, the answer is – both of them. Vikram told his parents what he thought about what was happening and Aziz told his parents about his views. What actually happened we may never know.

But, now Aziz’s parents believe in the cruel man who beats animals and Vikram’s parents believe in the brave man who fought of the rabid beast, just because this is what they have heard.