Process over product: The joyful Hamara Manch at Shikhantar

At work, we are often disconcerted to see organizations and individuals focus too much on the end product without giving due attention to process. In my view, process is key and we can learn far more from studying the process of creating a solution or product than from deploying the solution per se.

An interesting example of this came up when we were watching Aadyaa’s class show on Saturday. At Shikshantar, Hamara Manch is an institution. Literally ‘Our Stage’, it is a platform for children to express what they like or feel, the way they want to express it. A friend and a parent I was speaking with was commenting on how her child’s class did not do ‘as well’ as last year and how she felt they should do something different, better, etc. She was entirely focused on the product on show before us, the parents, today.

However, as a few of us went on to point out to her, the children view Hamara Manch as a  process. Over a month, they select an idea, story or theme that they like. They have to agree on something as a group, not an easy task for little children, but they do it with the able facilitation of their teachers, whom they affectionately call didis. Then they develop the theme or story into a performance. Teachers share with us sometimes the process of casting and it is interesting to see that, unlike in many other schools, it is not the natural talent or most gregarious personality that lands the meaty role. Often, children opt to do something they really like, even if it is a small role. For example last year, Aadyaa’s class did a take on the Ramayana. Her teachers wanted her to be Laxman, but she opted to become a butterfly because she loved the idea of wearing colorful wings and pink! Go figure! Often, they draw lots to choose and they learn to accept collective decisions even if they are against their individual liking. An important social skill and attitudinal attribute for the adult world as well!

The children are totally involved in creating the backdrop and the props, customizing their costumes as well. Everyday we hear of the next steps taken in developing their little show, everyday we see the excitement and the involvement of the children. It’s a beautiful, enjoyable, democratic participative process.

So when we come to see their little show on Hamara Manch day, we must see it in the light of this process; not merely as a product. And like the children learn a zillion soft skills in their month long journey, we must learn to see many aspects of what they present and appreciate the tremendous talent and team work that has brought their efforts to fruition. Once learnt, it is something for us to apply to our adult lives, to situations at work and at home. Whenever I find ourselves quick to criticize or tending toward cynicism, I will now think of Hamara Manch and review my reaction to what is before me!

The compering was done by two kindergarten kids with the help of a teacher as a dialogue among them

The compering was done by two kindergarten kids with the help of a teacher as a dialogue among them

The littlest kids want to be animals! Check out the beautiful backdrop the children have helped create for their show. It changes with each group's presentation

The littlest pre-nursery kids want to be animals! Check out the beautiful backdrop the children have helped create for their show. It changes with each group’s presentation

Aadyaa's group eager to begin. Once again, a really interesting backdrop where the children's work can be seen clearly

Aadyaa’s group eager to begin. Once again, a really interesting backdrop where the children’s work can be seen clearly

The costumes and props are also something the kids thoroughly enjoy making

The costumes and props are also something the kids thoroughly enjoy making. The two colorful haathis are Elmer btw.

Aadyaa, thrilled with everything and totally involved. I am always intrigued to see how themes like nature, friendship and festivals are favored by children. They really do see the world as a place full of cheer and promise! This class chose a story called Elmer that revolved around the conflict of being different and accepting those who are different as friends. So so relevant in today's social context!

Aadyaa, thrilled with everything and totally involved. I am always intrigued to see how themes like nature, friendship and festivals are favored by children. They really do see the world as a place full of cheer and promise! This class chose a story called Elmer that revolved around the conflict of being different and accepting those who are different as friends. So so relevant in today’s social context!

The kids went backstage and transformed into colorful elephants so that Elmer feels comfortable being himself! They made their costume themselves and they have reversible ears! How fun is that?

The kids went backstage and transformed into colorful elephants so that Elmer feels comfortable being himself! They made their costume themselves and they have reversible ears! How fun is that?

 

 

 

 

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About ramblinginthecity

I am an architect and urban planner, a writer and an aspiring artist. I love expressing myself and feel strongly that cities should have spaces for everyone--rich, poor, young, old, healthy and sick, happy or depressed--we all need to work towards making our cities liveable and lovable communities.

Posted on February 12, 2013, in Personal and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Nice one! Process is critical and often we all loose sight of that – i feel we as a culture are not very process oriented in our modern day to day life, we are just managing to cope and get by. Process gives strength, it brings method and structure and incremental benefits for the long term. I am so glad you pointed out this facet of Hamara Manch, Mukta. Parents tend to often look upon the production as a childish, under-produced, amateurish waste of time, specially when they have been through it over a few years, and when they compare it to th eglossy shows put up elsewhere.

  2. The process is as important as the end product, if not more. I believe that teh end product is a derivative of the whole process. I really like your take on ‘Hamara Manch’. The things that they learn over this one whole month gives you an insight into the child’s personality as well. More often than not, I see that every kid knows how to perform each other’s role, irrespective of the fact what their individual contribution is going to be. That’s what I call team work or team involvement in our corporate lingo. The organised manner in which they approach this whole forum is something we, as adults, sometimes fail to do. Without being judgmental and competitive, if we look at the whole process, its nothing but, pure joy for the kids!

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