International College Hong Kong

Russian Dolls

At ICHK, we think of Human Technologies, and school in general, as a project of growth.

Secondary school is that phase of life when students are guided and encouraged by adults in developing the habits that will support them in becoming the person they are aiming to become.

This is a lesson that is illustrated by the Human Technologies Russian Dolls, which are regularly used in classes across the school.

The HT curriculum encourages students to develop a profound sense of the art and craft of being human,  and we can think of ourselves as like a set of the dolls.

As you unpack them, there is a succession of smaller dolls until you get to the heart. Nested within us are a series of experiences and phases, always different for each individual, but which do bear similarities.

The centre of the dolls is the centre of oneself; the next stage is that where the baby is enveloped by the primary caregiver, usually the mother and that relationship becomes a fundamental part of who you are.

Gradually, a network of people grows around the baby, all bringing new scripts, habits and routines, which we term Human Technologies.

Overtime, as the child grows, they can be thought as a ‘self’, with the technologies they are drawing on being taken from a growing number of sources.

Development from new-born to infant to child to adult can be thought of as the gradual bringing together of one of those sets of Russian dolls, As you grow through the years and as your life expands, so your superficial appearance changes and your body takes up more physical space.

But, just as with the Russian doll, deep in the heart of you, the core of personality endures, the old habits of the former self remain, and continue to give shape to your present and future behaviour. Once formed, it will take an awful lot of effort and energy to break those old habits, so best to get them right the first time around.

We are all ‘Self 1’, but none of us is the finished article. Throughout life, the aim is to continue to grow, change and fulfil new ambitions. That’s what students learn at ICHK – to try and get their ‘Self 1’ into a relationship with who they want to be in the future – ‘Self 2’.

The dolls then are the visual manifestation in Human Technologies of where we are, and more importantly, where students find themselves as they grow and navigate their pathway in personal growth and learning, and learn to think critically about which technologies best serve them and those around them.


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