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From Birth to Death: A Unique Exhibition by Chongqing Kindergarten Kids

By Dai Yuan|May 28,2024

Chongqing -Visitors stepping into a winding space at Ecool in Chongqing Liangjiang New Area are greeted by a unique exhibition that journeys through the four stages of life: birth, growth, aging, and death. This immersive experience, curated by Chongqing St. Lakeshore Kindergarten, features contributions exclusively from the kindergarten's children.

The "Children and Philosophy -- Exploration of Life" exhibition showcases from the first chapter, "Hello World." (Photo/Dai Yuan)

The exhibition's inspiration came from a child facing the imminent loss of a family member. To support the child, St. Lakeshore Kindergarten used its extensive picture book library to guide the children through a series of books on life education. Teachers posed simple questions, prompting the children to reflect on life and death. The children's profound insights inspired the kindergarten to create the exhibition titled "Children and Philosophy -- Exploration of Life."

Each exhibition segment reflects the children's understanding of a particular life stage.

In "Hello World," the first chapter, a wall is decorated with the children's first photos in life and their creative paintings depicting their origins. This introduction offers a glimpse into the beginning of life from the children's perspective.

"Growing Up," the second chapter, showcases the children's hopeful outlook on life. Audio recordings and paintings express their belief that growing up brings positive changes and the fulfillment of dreams. Ceramic works like bigger shoes and faces the children make symbolize their growth and aspirations.

The ceramic works made by children from St. Lakeshore Kindergarten at the exhibition showcase their understanding of growing up. (Photo/Dai Yuan)

The third chapter, "Growing Old," objectively reflects aging. A rocking chair, miniature newspapers, and reading glasses symbolize the children's understanding of aging. They perceive aging as being marked by wrinkles, declining eyesight, and the use of a walking stick.

In the final chapter, "Death," the children's pragmatic understanding of death is presented through audio recordings. Their thoughts include "Death is to leave the world," "Death is going underground and gradually disappearing." and "If there is a next life, I will choose to be with my mom again." These expressions offer a unique and clear perspective on life's end.

Qiao Zheng, Principal of Chongqing St. Lakeshore Kindergarten, emphasized the exhibition's significance. "Many parents and adults are moved to tears, especially after hearing the children's understanding of death," said Qiao. "Their feedback shows that they reflect on their way of thinking with their kids. Some aspects of their interactions seem to be overlooked." Qiao noted that the children's perspectives also provide emotional healing for parents.  

The kindergarten highlights kids' initiatives, and all the exhibition elements are from them, including the theme poster. (Photo/Dai Yuan)

Parents commonly recognize the importance of life education for children, particularly as they face academic and social pressures. The children's positive and pragmatic approach to life helps alleviate their worries.

Chongqing St. Lakeshore Kindergarten is Chongqing's unique international Baccalaureate (IB) bilingual kindergarten. According to Qiao, the IB program aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who contribute to a better and more peaceful world through education that fosters intercultural understanding and respect. The IB curriculum develops learners who are inquirers, knowledgeable thinkers, competent communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective.

A wall at St. Lakeshore Kindergarten is decorated with Chongqing dialects to encourage kids to explore and respect their native language. (Photo/Dai Yuan)

To continue its educational mission, the kindergarten plans to explore more life and philosophy education themes, with another exhibition on time already in the works.


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