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Presenting Child-Caring Design at Hangzhou College of Preschool Teacher Education

The Third East Asia Child Science Conference was held for two days on October 31 and November 1, 2008 at Hangzhou College of Preschool Teacher Education at Zhejiang Normal University in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province.

The Song Dynasty lasted from the 10th to the 13th century in China, and Hangzhou was the Southern Song Dynasty's capital. Hangzhou is on the delta of Yangtze River, a vibrant agricultural region said to be the crossroads of lively exchange with Arabic, Japanese, Korean and other travelers and also visited by Marco Polo.

Blessed with the sea, mountains, rivers and lakes, the province of Zhejiang is full of natural beauty. The city of Hangzhou is situated on the shores of the scenic Xī Hú Lake and has a population of about 6.6 million. Without a subway system, its buses and main streets are crowded with people in the evening, but the streets lined with platanus trees lend it serenity. Only three hours from Narita by direct flight and a one-hour time difference, it is easily accessible from Japan.

We tend to associate China with Chinese cuisine. Rogairo is a well known restaurant in Yokohama and Tokyo. Perhaps it took its name from the 150-year old restaurant named Rogairo that is located on the Xī Hú Lake. I was invited to dine there and I enjoyed authentic regional cuisine, particularly famous for grass carp dishes in the historic architecture and setting.

There happened to be a wedding banquet at the restaurant and the bride and groom, dressed in a white wedding dress and tuxedo, greeted the guests, just as they do in Japan. I was told that the bride changes into a Chinese dress later. The guests were dressed variously, some very fashionably and others in everyday wear, and gave their best wishes to the new couple.

Unfortunately, I was only able to attend the first day of the conference and am afraid that I inconvenienced the professors of Zhejiang Normal University. I gave a presentation entitled "Child-Caring Design," asserting the position that we must design things and activities from the perspective of the child and their welfare. I referred to Pedikistics, which was held in the late 1970s in Athens, Greece, the congress on Children and the City held in Tokyo by the International Pediatrics Association while I was President of the International Pediatrics Association, Kid's City Project launched by my late friend Professor R. A. Aldrich in Seattle, Washington in the early 1980s, and the fatal accident involving a revolving door in Roppongi Hills.

Tragic accidents rank as the leading cause of death among children between the ages of one and four and five and nine. They account for the second most common cause of death among children between 10 and 14 years of age.* While child-caring design is necessary in cities and architecture, clearly the problem is much larger. In particular, given the incidence of bullying and school nonattendance, child-caring design should also include education techniques, textbooks, educational materials and supplies, education systems, and so on. Bullying is only one symptom and this means that beyond school building design, we must consider child-caring design from the perspective of the family and society.

Child Science is founded on the principles of child-caring design. Good child-caring design depends on researchers in the diverse child-related fields coming together to think about children. Accident prevention requires the cooperation of researchers in engineering. To raise children who know the joy of playing, learning, and living requires the cooperation from those in brain science and related fields.

The Triune Theory of the Brain, which I have written about previously, gives a neurological basis to the claim that the programs of the emotions associated with the limbic system of the brain and of course, the programs of joy and pleasure play a major role in education. In pediatrics, it is well known that children, in particular, infants, need love and affection for their growth and development.

In the airplane as I flew back from Hangzhou, it seemed to me that the time had come to establish a firm scientific foundation for child caring design through research in Child Science.

* Source: Vital Statistics Survey of Japan 2006

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