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Process Documentation Presentation - 2011

About Project | Introduction This project is an attempt to develop a curriculum for wellness of children in age group of 10-13 years with the foundation of an intuitive, experiential text– The Katha Upanishad. The activities outlined in the curriculum attempt to help the teacher create a platform in the classroom to work with children’s dilemmas and allow for a discussion concerning decision making. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Definition of dilemmas Adolescence Characteristics of adolescence Rational (self) vs. Intuitive (Self) Alternative framework Influence of media My question Need for awareness of who you are?

Design Proposal | Design Brief Opening Statement: To form an alternative framework of reference with which people can look at dilemmas and take decisions based on repository of stories such as Katha Upanishad which is universal in it’s applicability.

Aim of the project: To plant a seed for deeper conversation, amongst children between 10-13 years, of the complex process of dilemmas and the factors that go in weighing options to arrive at a decision in a situation, by providing a foundation of an intuitive, experiential text – Katha Upanishad.

Design Proposal | Research Questions 1.

How could philosophy be communicated to a target audience through the process of design?


How could a particular medium be designed so as to communicate larger and deeper philosophical questions?


How could the knowledge from a specific philosophic text, which is something so intangible/nebulous in nature, be converted by the design process into a tangible form that preserves the discourse of the text?

Starting Point | Journey into Self 1.

Wari - A musical and experiential embodiement of a walk that stirred me within and got me thinking about much larger philosophical questions.


Questions about Self - What is Self? Does it live? Die? Does it change? Does Self make the identity change? Is Self, like identity, a moving point?


A quest to find out more about the Self.

Katha Upanishad | Introduction What is Upa-Ni-Shad? It refers to the knowledge being passed on to the student while sitting close to the teacher and this knowledge that is sought and gained is of the highest kind – Atmagyaan – the knowledge of the Self.

What is Katha Upanishad? This is the ultimate teacher-student story where Yama, the teacher, transfers the knowledge of Self to his student – Nachiketa Starting point of inquiry into Self for Nachiketa was the same as mine.

Katha Upanishad | Immersion & Research 1.

Lecture of Shree Mumtaz Ali: Deep and thorough immersion in the topic of Katha Upanishad by Shree Mumtaz Ali, a scholar on the Upanishad.


Initial Research – Introduction to the Katha Upanishad in simpler words and in today’s context.


Conversation with Ms. Tara Kini and Introduction to Dialogue with Death by Eknath Easwaran.

Premise | Visual Com, Philosophy, Pedagogy To design a medium to communicate larger, deeper philosophic thoughts using art and design pedagogical process. Bring the ultimate Guru-Shishya philosophy about the knowledge and Self from ancient India through the medium of a curriculum pack for children.

The common thread of Self My starting point: Inquiry of Self. Katha Upanishad: Knowledge of Self. Need of Adolescence: Awareness of self.

Understanding audience | Interviews, Need Two sets of Audience: 1. Teachers 2. Children (end-users)

Teacher Interviews to find out: • What were the teacher’s perceptions of the childen – their wants and interests? • What is it that the children needed? The Need: 1. Challenge dualistic thinking (blurring the lines of right and wrong). 2. A strong sense of Self. 3. To find drive/passion within to identify their own root. 4. A seed for deeper conversation. 5. Exposure to certain concepts that will help take learning beyond the cognitive world into abstraction.

Why Katha Upanishad | Needs Assessment How can Katha Upanishad attend to the needs of the children?

Why the text of Katha Upanishad? because it’s concepts offers: 1. Subtlety of choices. 2. Develops a strong sense of self. 3. Lessons in everyday life - looking within the process of making choices as a life-skill. 4. Exposure to a set of values.

Ultimately, the Katha Upanishad pushes for decision-making to happen in the context of mind, body and spirit.

Katha Upanishad | Flowscape A graphical representation of how the story and concepts can be communicated through various mediums and activities to the children.

Teacher Workshop | Teacher Interpretation Big idea: Explore the concept of Katha Upanishad with teachers. Learning Outcome: To interpret meaning of the concepts, to embody the interpretation through visual representation, to plant a seed to have a deep conversation about the concepts 1.

Readings given out were on three concepts: Gross and Subtle, Will and Desire and Shreyas and Preyas from the Katha Upanishad.


Responses were shared across all the groups.

Distilled Concept | Concept of Shreyas Preyas Meaning of the Shloka: Each one of us is offered a choice between Preyas and Shreyas. Preyas is what is pleasant and Shreyas is what is beneficial. Preyas offers us instant gratification – wealth, power and pleasure. We yearn for this pleasure even though we know it will not last. Shreyas, on the other hand, though painful at the time ... it’s benefits stay with you for long.”

Pilot testing | Taking workshops Intention of workshop in MAIS and Drishya: •

Awareness of the existence of dilemmas and capacitate children to make choices differently – choice of whether to do this or to do that, in the light of “right vs. easy“ and “instant vs. long-term.“

Different ways of telling stories with embedded dilemmas – Stop Motion Animation & Scratch.

Shreyas–Preyas | Summer Camp–Drishya •

Visually represent a story with a dilemma to choose between “right (Shreyas)“ and “easy (Preyas)“.

The technique of stop motion animation to visually represent their story+dilemma.

Shreyas–Preyas | Project Week – MAIS •

Visually represent a story+game with a dilemma to choose from an “instantly gratifying (Preyas)“ situation or a “beneficial in the long-run (Shreyas)“ situation.

The technique of Scratch (a visual programming tool) to visually represent the dilemma.

A closure of Café Conversation to the project week about making choices.

Observation | Success & Failures of workshop Success of the process: •

A platform for awareness of the existence of a dilemma – To do this/ that. Having to choose one thing over the other and visually represent it.

Failure of the process: •

No enhanced capability of making choices differently.

The conversations they had were not deep enough.

Research Process | Reflections in Jury 3 Examining failure as a hypothetical case. Children showed: •

No enhanced capabilities of making choices differently.

No deep conversation about making choices, complexities that happen internally.

Fixed notions of right and wrong.

Reflection: Just distilling the concept of Shreyas and Preyas and providing a dilemma whether to do this/do that was not getting the kids to make decisions any different from what they were already doing. Research Qs: Could the missing frame of reference be filled up in the next workshop by giving the actual context of the Katha Upanishad – introducing the use of the shloka of Shreyas Preyas?

Valley School Workshop | Redesign Activity Invitation to observe a workshop in Valley School by Ms. Tara Kini and Sunaad Group. To observe: The flowof the activity in the workshop which included another Shloka from the Katha Upanishad. My Challenge: To design an activity including the shloka of Shreyas Preyas to have a much deeper conversation about the complexities behind the process of making choices.

Pilot testing | Shloka Activity: Shreyas Preyas Shreyas Preyas activity Big Idea – In the light of interpreting the concept of Shreyas and Preyas, have a conversation about the complex process and the many factors that go on internally in weighing options to arrive at a decision in a given situation. My intention: 1. To interpret and to identify Shloka–Shreyas and Preyas individually in your personal situations. 2. To challenge dualistic thinking and identify the grays. 3. How can something long-term and something instant have different meaning for people.

Observation | Shloka Activity: Shreyas Preyas Key questions and key observations made: •

Why give so much importance to a shloka in today’s age?

Because it provides a theory/model, a grounding to start believing in something more concretely which was otherwise a very internal process like making choices.

Not knowing why you choose, what you choose, but just going ahead with a gut feeling.

How all make choices differently based on our differences in viewpoints and prejudices.

Identifying greys – Sometimes wanting to do both options and also not wanting to do any and sometimes there being no option at all.

Tough to make a choice between what your head says and what your heart says. How to make choice?

The pressure of a certain expectation compels you to make a choice.

Final Product | Wellness Curriculum Pack

Final Product | Teacher Manual+ Activity Cards

Process Presentation  
Process Presentation  

Showcasing the process of the project The Katha Upanishad