Become “the Person You Want Your Children to Grow up to be”


“We all underestimate ourselves; we underestimate the power of the actions of each individual.” Kate Hsu, who only turned 29 this year, has already been promoting Design for Change Challenge (DFC Challenge) in Taiwan for six years. Over the years, she still has her bright smile, and her eyes still glitter with determination; only, she no longer is just concerned with children, but has shifted her attention towards grownups. “My biggest realization over these years is that education is not that distant. It is always around us. People always ask what is the best type of education? What is the best teaching material? But it is in fact our actions and words; what we say and do are really the most important.”


Foster Confidence through Design Thinking

Inspired by a TED Talks video, Kate quit her teaching job as an English teacher at the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University six years ago, and began promoting DFC Challenge in Taiwan. Through a refined method of design thinking, she guides children to sense the problems around them, find corresponding solutions, and take actions to realize these solutions; through trial and error, they try to find the correct answers to the problems, an then share with everyone. Since founding DFC Taiwan, Kate has never wanted to challenge or topple the existing education system; rather, she hopes to build a stage on which children can share. Just as the founder of DFC, Principal Kiran Bir Sethi of Riverside School in India, said, the purpose of DFC is to enable children to make use of the knowledge they have learned to actively solve the problems around them, and maintain the confidence of “I Can” despite setbacks and hardships.

Before, she thought getting no support from others would be the greatest obstacle of promoting DFC, or perhaps no one would understand what kind of education this initiative could deliver to children. “Now I think the real target audience are parents. We already believe that children have the power to change the world. So, I should instead show the grownups around them this fact.”

At the “Sharing Activity for DFC Taiwan” organized annually at the end of May and early June, kids from all around Taiwan will go onto the stage one by one, and share with others the problems they have solved. Kate still remembers that, at the end of first year’s event, a child of the Tsou Tribe was recognized with the “Top Prize,” winning his first chance in life to visit another country. Kate indirectly learned from the kid’s schoolteacher that his father doubted his ability at first, but later became proud of him, and shared his pride with the entire tribal village by hosting a great feast. “I was very touched when I heard this. The boy attended the event the second year too, and he was a different person with confidence gleaming from his eyes.”

DFC Ignites Children’s Motivation to Learn

At this year’s sharing activity sponsored by WDC Taipei, the action of a group of children attracted the attention of the media. Three children from Nankuo Elementary School in Changhua discovered how difficult it was for migrant workers to buy train tickets. Through their own efforts, they were able to get support from volunteer translators from all over Taiwan. After continued communication, they finally received response from Taiwan Railways, and now beside every self-service ticket machines, there are translations in different languages. “When children need to write a letter to a grownup for their DFC challenge, they usually find out that they are not as good at writing, and want to learn how to write well; or, when they need to tally up how many people in school, or similar questions, they realize that isn’t it math?” Kate believes that by providing students an opportunity to use what they learn, they will understand why they need to learn. “Otherwise they will think the things they learn are for tests only. However, this is not the truth. That ‘Why’ is what lightens them up.”

Become “the Person You Want Your Children to Grow up to be”

“Whenever I deliver a speech, I always ask my audience, what kind of children you want to see? They always tell me that they want children to be loving and confident. I think it is great! Then you must first become someone like that, then you can see your children become one.” Kate remembers that at one event, a teacher who kept looking down at his cellphone asked: “My students always use smartphone in class, what can I do?” Kate was at a loss of words. She frankly told the teacher that children grow up watching adults, and we have long neglected the power of setting examples through actions.

“During design thinking, you need to constantly as why? Only after a number of tries can you finally find the root cause. Now the root cause we have found is the adults around children.” Kate thinks that in the city we live in, many ideas are already blossoming, and people are now paying more attention the children’s world. However, as children are now addressing the issues and changing the world, adults should really become ‘the person you want your children to become.’ Discovering the problem is your first step. Then, you should start imagine how to solve the problem and take action, and we will be able to see the changes that have been shared over and over again by the children on the stage of DFC.”