Our topics

As introduced in our “About Us” section, each of our interactions with the children is centered on either a humanistic or a philosophical theme. Some of these themes are inspired by the Theory of knowledge in the IB curriculum; some are important topics that are often overlooked by the education system that we stumbled upon while organizing our primary or secondary school experiences; some originated from resonations between group members during group meetings; and some come from the suggestions of our instructors. We pre-plan topics during group meetings and hold relatively focused and intense discussions with pupils for a period of time prior to switching to the next. Thanks to the one-to-one discussion set-up, each member of the working group can cutomize different discussions with pupils based on their own interests. Simply put, we will use current events and political incidents as examples if a child is passionate about politics and economics; if one is more into literaure and stories, we will use novels and movies to start the conversation. 

Below is a brief intorduction to some of the topics that we covered during discussions, and we will keep updating them as more emerge.

Theme 1: Diversity of Values and Ideas

Growing up, we live in a relatively homogeneous environment in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River in East China: the vast majority of people around us are from the Han Chinese ethnic group; there are few people around us who hold different religious beliefs/culture; teachers and parents talk in similar ways; most people get up early in the morning and stay up late to repay home and car loans and better family conditions. This is especially true for children in rural areas, where they meet too many people from the same background with similar goals and aspirations in life, and we fear that they would drown in such unified voices. Therefore, we planned to talk about the existence of varying values and beliefs and different dreams and pursuits. We aim to broaden their horizons and allow them to see a wider world in general.

Discussion Materials:

Science Fiction “The Three-body Problem”

Movie “P.K.”

Reports of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict

The story of Copernicus and heliocentrism

Movie”The legend of 1900″.

Theme 2: Values and Life Choices

Following on from Theme 1, we discussed the relationship between personal philosophy and life’s journey, and how the values we have always influence the choices we make in life and define the kind of people we will become. One of the messages we want to convey was that we don’t have conform to worldly preconceptions. In a sense, theme one is a macro understanding of many different values and theme two is a micro understanding of values from an individual perspective.


Cartoon Movie “Soul”

Theme 3: Introduction to Critical Thinking

We often grow up surrounded by authoritative voices, and such voices may come from parents, teachers, or even mainstream media propaganda. Unfortunately, education at the elementary and middle school levels rarely teaches us how to critically look external information, especially voices from the authority. The ability to think independently in this way is crucial for every individual. We would like to start with some of the school rules, textbook texts, and mainstream media news around children, and try to discuss the possibly-existing flaws as well as the implied positions and political attitudes.


News reports about the spread of Covid-19 in the United States

News reports about take-out riders

Southern Weekly Journal

Folk Stories “The Blind Men and the Elephant” “The foolish old man, who removed the mountains”

“Love, Death, and Robots” Clips

Theme 4: The Individual and the Nation

The inspiration for this theme originated from our memories of some primary and secondary school texts, which often mentioned the self-sacrifice of some characters for the sake of the country and the nation. Indeed, such a spirit is honorable and reminds us not to be pure egoists. However, in our months-long communication with the children, we realized that they seemed to have entered into another misunderstanding on this issue. They sometimes over-exaggerate the antagonisms between ethnic groups and even regard the suffering of other ethnic groups as a political success. At the same time, it can be seen from their mere words that they seldom think about patriotism dialectically. Therefore, it is time for us to talk about the nature of patriotism, how to distinguish between the tactics of politicians under the guise of “patriotism” and respect for the interests and happiness of the individual. These topics will lead us to a deeper understanding of the relationship between the individual and the state.


The classical novel “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms”

Movie “Letters from Iwo Jima”

Movie “Taegukgi

Topic 5: History, War and Aggression

As human beings, our history is full of wars, rivalries, conflicts, aggression and resistance. Who will be responsible for the crimes in history? Do conflicts and contradictions dissolve with time? Does history teach us anything? At the upper elementary level, children already have a rudimentary understanding of some of the historical facts. Therefore, how to look at history from a dialectical perspective becomes a necessary topic.


World War II Korean War

Topic 6: How to View Death

Death is a topic that people will face eventually. For children, it is very heavy and also has a certain mysterious color. The reason why we talk about death is that when we face it, we may have a clearer perception and think about life itself. As this topic is heavy, we have combined cartoons and picture books to discuss it with the children.


Comic “The Cat Who Died a Million Times”

Theme 7: Exploring from Books

While the above themes are mostly discussions of topics we have initiated, in this theme we would prefer to see the children initiate their own explorations. We will work with the elementary students to read a book of some interest to them (due to the one-on-one format, each member of our group may read a different book). In the process, we expect the elementary students to summarize the plot and refine the themes to some degree, which we will discuss with them.

Books: “Holes”, “My Memories of Old Beijing”,  “The Kite Runner”, “Three Days to See”, “The Windmill”, “The Catcher in the Rye”

To be continued