A research and development institute is needed to develop aesthetic education, while regulations should be loosened to create a supportive environment for art teachers and school administrators, a group of educators, academics and artists said yesterday at a public hearing on the promotion of aesthetic education.
“As a think tank for the Ministry of Education, the National Academy for Educational Research could be a suitable candidate to carry out long-term studies and develop policies and strategies,” National University of Tainan professor Chen Po-chang (陳伯璋) said. “It is equally important to have a trial period for each plan, to experiment with a small number of schools before implementing it.”
Moreover, research and development teams should be made up of educators, artists and researchers to define what aesthetic education encompasses and design viable policies and school curricula accordingly, National Taiwan Normal University professor Chen Chiung-hua (陳瓊花) said.
Wang Yan-huang (王延煌), a former principal of the National Singang Senior High School of Arts, said one solution to lack of art teachers is to relax regulations so that schools have flexibility to explore different possibilities such as artist-in-residence programs and cooperation with individual artists and art groups.
Natural Way Children’s School founder Tseng Kuo-chun (曾國俊), agreed, saying that besides offering training programs to teachers, it is important to invite people outside the school system to contribute.
“There are so many talented people out there full of passion and ideas, but excluded from the system because of rules and limitations,” he said. “The point is not to have hundreds of art courses. It is about people and how to let them make the best use of their talents.”
The establishment of teaching certificates can help to draw artists into the system, said Chiang Shu-chun (江淑君), professor at the music department of Taipei Municipal University of Education.
“This way, artists can obtain teaching certificates and benefit from the same promotion system and salary range as full-time teachers,” Chiang said.
She also urged the government to set up regular funds and sponsorship for young artists and students participating in international arts competitions since it is a good way to “show off the nation’s soft power.”
On the topic of teachers’ training programs, Ping Heng (平珩), an associate professor at the Taipei National University of the Arts’ (TNUA) School of Dance, said that the programs do not work well in practice as teaching materials and methods are often dull and uninspiring.
Moreover, there is no differentiation in training among faculties in junior and senior-high schools and vocational schools, despite the fact that demands for art education vary greatly among different types of schools, TNUA vice principal Chang Chung-shiuan (張中煖) said.
In response to the ministry’s plan to set up a department to promote aesthetic education, both Chen Po-chang and Wang questioned the new department’s ability to meet the high demands it entails.
“It is a truly challenging work and requires not only changes to the school system, but also communities and society as a whole,” Chen Po-chang said. “It is a very long-term project that needs cross-ministries communication and cooperation among the education ministry, the Ministry of Culture and many other governmental institutes.”