2019 Teachers in Aesthetic Education Go to the Netherlands to Visit Aesthetic and Art Education, Gaining Fruitful Experiences
The Ministry of Education implemented the Overseas Training and Study Visits for Teachers in Aesthetic Education for the first time in 2019, and assigned National Taiwan Normal University to assist in organizing the Aesthetic and Art Educational Visit Agenda to the Netherlands, and selecting outstanding teachers in aesthetic education in the primary, junior and senior high schools of our nation. The visit group was led by the Co-principal investigator, Huang Chuen-min, and the Sub-investigator, Chen Chun-di to carry out this 10-day visit activity from October 25 to November 3, 2019.
The Interdisciplinary Learner-orientated Art Education
The education system in the Netherlands is open, diverse and practical, which emphasizes international diversity, flexible student-orientated courses, and the connection between communities and society. There were 4 schools contained within this visit including two universities, one senior high school, and one primary school, where our teachers could have an inside look into environmental facilities, space construction, curriculum development, and teaching in standard classrooms concerning aesthetic and art education in schools at different education stages. The visit contents in the four schools were as follows:
First, the Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts, Karen Neervoot of the Fontys University of Applied Sciences, said that their school gives students high autonomy and opportunities of self-realization. Students are encouraged to proactively propose interdisciplinary and cross-curricular cooperation requirements while creating their works. This school also provides appropriate resources and support in response to students’ requirements.
Secondly, the Coordinator of the Jazz Department and International Relations Officer, Jan-Gerd Krüger of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, introduced the purpose of art education in the Netherlands is that art is life in the hope that students can connect themselves to society after graduation. For example, the design of French windows in the practice room of the new music building, where students practice. The scene of students practicing in this space closely connects with the surrounding community environments which “fire together, wire together”, and has become a cornerstone of art in the city. Thus, the relation between school and community is closer, which strengthens the connection between school and society.
Thirdly, before vising the RK Jenaplan Basisschool De Hussel, which originated from Jenaplan Schools, Professor Walter Heilmann of the Universität zu Köln, Germany, presented four purposes of mixed-age teaching in Jenaplan Schools: 1. the cultivation of creativity, 2. the cultivation of self-decisiveness (sense of responsibility), 3. empathy, and 4. the attention to individuals’ developments, dialogues, and respect. Professor Heilmann also accompanied our visit group to visit the teaching scenes of this school. All participants were enabled to observe and experience the classroom design for multi-directional interchanges and the mixed-age class teaching as if they were in family groups of family living rooms.
Finally, the final school that the visit tour went to visit was the Amadeus Lyceum, which is one of the representative comprehensive senior high schools in Utrecht city, and pays attention to cultural developments and training courses. Its cultural education includes relevant knowledge of arts, medias, and cultural heritages. The Vice Principal, Marc Van de Velde, said that in addition to the basic training of artistic knowledge and skills in school, the interdisciplinary teaching integrated with the topic of cultural heritages was also one of the highlights. For example, the course theme was Netherlandish architectures, combined with the knowledge of mathematics and physics. The cross-curricular course patterns cultivate students with the competencies of creativity, techniques and critical thinking.
The Immersive Experiences of the Beauty of Art in Netherlandish Designs
In addition to the visits of school education and the important collection in the Kröller-Müller Museum, Van Gogh Museum, and Het Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the highlight of this aesthetic visit was the special visit arrangement of the 2019 Dutch Design Week (DDW) and the graduation exhibition of the Design Academy Eindhoven. Through the visits to these exhibitions, teachers gained the latest, novel, creative and foresighted design concepts, and thinking ideas of environmental sustainability.
During the process of the visit, Professor Huang Chuen-min and Professor Chen Chun-di also led visit group members to carry out in-depth discussions. For instance, through the comparison of the Netherlandish Delft pottery and the oriental blue and white porcelain, the interchanges and differences between oriental and occidental cultures were pointed out, which laid out the historical trades, and the cross-field relationship between art crafts and economic status at that time. After visiting the Netherlandish windmills, professors and group members had a discussion about drainage engineering, design materials, and aesthetic viewpoints in different periods. The teachers’ interdisciplinary discussions indeed struck a chord.
Participating teachers said that through this Overseas Training and Study Visits for Teachers in Aesthetic Education, the unique confidence revealed in the aesthetics possessed by the Dutch was observed, which also triggered every member to rethink the question of how can aesthetic education in Taiwan have a new way of thinking under the modern era of interdisciplinary integration and globalization. Via aesthetic visit activities, and guidance of professors, all members had a greater understanding of the Netherlandish education patterns with the focus on personality development and creativity, which reflected on aesthetic education and numerous works of art in the DDW. Teachers were enabled to enter the proposing of questions regarding Netherlandish education while pondering on the form of aesthetic artworks during the visit activities. Via design and aesthetics, topics of globalization were focused on.
The aesthetic and art educational visit to the Netherlands not only initiated the interchange opportunities between Taiwan and the Netherlands, but also enhanced teacher global perspectives and art and cultural literacies. Moreover, it helped the belief of reforming aesthetic education and internal partnerships of teachers from different fields and those in the aesthetic project to be closely converged. By May 2020, the open sharing of visit experiences will be continuously shared through course developments, artistic creations, lectures, interchanges in communities, on campuses, via social media, school leagues, and nation-wide aesthetic education activities, in order to spread the seeds of aesthetic education. It is hoped that educational actions to transform diverse students’ aesthetic experiences and cultural knowledge and skills can encourage students’ autonomous learning motivation and passion, cultivating within themselves a deep seated education in this core literacy.