Teaching Materials - Exercise

Personal History Timeline

Name of Artist Educator: Julia Winckler,Wong Suk Ki
Excercise Category: Class Prelude, Self-awareness, Visual storytelling

In the fast changing lives and city, does reorganizing data bank mean anything? Is filing a tedious and repetitive process?

Concept / Inspiration:

In the fast changing lives and city, does reorganizing data bank mean anything? Is filing a tedious and repetitive process? Is this process considered crucial only in art museums, academies or circles of professionals and collectors? It means totally opposite to Julia Winckler, consultant of this project. She believes that filing could be a personal and future related job.

Julie has written that: “History is hard to be grasped, it’s anonymous and dispersed, until someone come to explore your story.” From her observation, when young people begin to create their own personal profiles, they would feel that “they are actually possessing lives, environment, objects, family, and have the control on these things”. Developing personal profiles could generate a power to change, because during the process of self-reflection, youngsters are able to thoroughly know about themselves and the surrounded environment, like their parents or the small park nearby. Personal Archive makes them relate to the environment closer and makes everyone’s story valuable, at last it could turn into plans and witnesses of life.


1. During the process of self-reflection, students are allowed to thoroughly know about themselves and the surrounded environment.
2. Arouse students’ curiosity towards the past and culture.

Materials / Equipment:



Inside classroom

Workshop Description:

Every student is required to review his/her own past and draw a timeline. Educators could provide a frame or a topic to guide the students to explore their own past more easily.

Example frame:
Home – Jenny Li
Educator Jenny Li, thinks that family has occupied most part of her past, so she uses “home” as the timeline topic. In order to guide students to think, before drafting the timeline, students are required to spend 15 minutes to list dozens of questions about home at once. Students are expected to open their imagination towards home, let them carry these questions to home to seek for the answers. For instance, interview about family members’ past, or look for some old belongings and take photos of them, finally, mark the findings on the timeline.

Place, people, object – Leung Yiu Hong
Educator Leung Yiu Hong thinks that secondary school students might not be able to handle both topics of people and environment together in a short time, therefore he decides to let students focus on their own situations. Educator offers three starting points – place, people, objects – for students to trace back to their past more easily.
“People”: With reference to Leung Yiu Hong’s “Family Resemblances”, let students to feel their close bonding with their families.
“Object”: With reference to Brandon Chan’s “Personal Object”, self-reflect through objects.

More practice experiences, please refer to the part of “Education Process” in “Through Our Eyes” Personal Archive.

Expected Outcome:

The exercise could be a warm up activity and finished by the previous stage of the lesson. It could help teachers having few ideas about students’ characteristics and own stories, for example, if students mentioned their families in their timelines, the teacher would be able to observe their relationships with their families. Meanwhile, it could also be developed into a long term series of courses, to help students to explore stories and develop self-consciousness, hence to sort out the relationship between themselves and environment and history on their own.

Actual Outcome:

From what the educator has observed, when students first drew their timelines, they thought there weren’t anything worth mentioning, because most of them have very similar stories to mark on the timelines – born, go to school and graduate – and there were no personal stories involved. The situation reflected that the students really needed this exercise to help them to explore their own experiences, and let them to know and explore more of themselves. When it came to the second and third time of drawing timelines, the students began to explore more past moments, and thought of how their past made the people they are today.

Sorting out personal history requires organizational skills and emphasizes on logical thinking. It needs students to deal with the relationships between different matters like time sequences and consequences, which some students found difficult to handle. In this circumstances, educators used the method of handling personal objects, to let students to try to look back at one moment of their own pasts more easily, instead of focusing on logical organization ability. Here, it is suggested to refer to Ho Man Kei’s and Vik Lai’s “Timeline of Curiosity”, and Brandon Chan’s “Personal Object”.


Ma On Shan Tsung Tsin Secondary School
Chau Tsz Tsun

Ma On Shan Tsung Tsin Secondary School
Law Tsui Yi
This student’s timeline drafted the relationship between her and her family, and traced back to the period her characteristic happened to change.

Ma On Shan Tsung Tsin Secondary School
Not only expressing through words and drawings, this student also found old pictures and belongings to display.

T.W.G.Hs Li Ka Shing College
Yip Chui Shan
The timeline design of this student is unique, not only reviewing her past, but also wrote her future goals.

Ma On Shan Saint Joseph’s Secondary School
Lam Wing Yan
This student’s timeline recorded her unforgettable “first time”.

Bishop Hall Jubilee School
Ng Wing Lam

Tai Po Sam Yuk Secondary School
Lai Ho Yan

Reference Materials:

“Through Our Eyes” 2014/15 Secondary School Program is themed as Personal History. Artist Educators from Hong Kong and the participating students utilised photography to delve into their personal history – by engaging in exercises such as flipping through family photo albums, returning to the scene of memories and taking portrait and objects, they traced how their character, likes and dislikes have been constructed. The exchange programme is a collaboration with Community Arts Partnership (CAP) of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Teachers and students from the two cities created their own personal timeline. The exercise product of the programme has been presented in the annual exhibition. It has been generated into an online Personal Archive. Apart from recording tutorial experiences and exhibition process, more significantly, to continuously collect students’ personal objects and personal history timeline, and aims to consolidate a broad perspective of the young generation.