寫字課很無聊嗎?

不,書法寶藏讓孩子興味盎然!
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2015 / 4月

文‧彭蕙仙 圖‧林格立


春天裡,一個周末的午後,窗外的杜鵑花開得茂盛動人,鳥鳴縈繞中,小朋友們穿過古意盎然的木雕門,陸續走進書法教室,喔,或許不該用「教室」來形容,「雅齋是雅齋主人、我的父親丘埜鴻和家人共同使用的書房。」書房裡除了筆、墨、紙、硯之外,還有藏書和字帖,桌上、門上和窗櫺上,到處貼著孩子們的書法作品,空氣中一派祥和寧靜;目前擔任「雅齋兒童書法研究會」負責人的丘璇芝特別強調,雖然雅齋教授兒童書法,「但我們不是兒童才藝班,而是遵循傳統書家的『設室授徒』之制,根據學生的不同資質給予個別指導,傳授兒童書藝,希望能給孩子們最完整的書法啟蒙教育。」


自小打好書法基礎

有鑑於書法教育在台灣逐漸式微,書法家丘埜鴻在民國62年創立「雅齋兒童書法研究會」。丘璇芝轉述父親的理念說,任何藝術的磨練,最好從童年開始,「因此當年父親開風氣之先,大膽嘗試進行『兒童書法教育』,希望教導學童怎麼樣開始寫書法。」從事兒童書法教育超過20年的「台北市中華兒童書法教育推展協會」名譽理事長楊靜江則認為,「無論是硬筆或毛筆書法,小學2年級是開始學習書法最好的年齡。」

丘埜鴻早在四十多年前就投入兒童書法教育,理由是發現學校教育對書法課不夠重視。不過,至少當時從小3開始,每周課表上還有一堂表定的書法課;而自民國92年開始採行的「國民中小學9年一貫課程」,將書法教學規範於語文學習領域的國語文課程綱要中,但是目前國民中小學的師資培育機構並沒有把書法教學納入國語文教師「職前必修課程」中,因此國語文教師不一定具備足夠的書法教學能力;此外,自小學3年級開始,「語文學習領域」除了國語,還有英文、本土語言等科目,縮減了國語文的學習節數,於是,書法課程就從正式的課表中消失了。

近年來,華文熱愈趨盛行,國內國中小學校的書法教育卻日益衰微,因此教育部在民國98年開始推動「國中小書法教學改進方案」,希望透過政策宣導以及補助辦理教師書法增能培訓課等,強化地方政府及學校重視書法教學並落實推動。目前計畫已進行到第二階段,教育部自103年至106年,持續推動「提升書法教學成效中期計畫」。丘璇芝認為,政府願意重新重視書法教育,「這是個好的開始。」不過,教育部並沒有要求學校恢復課表中的書法課程,因此對書法有興趣的學童,多會選擇坊間的才藝班或是書法教室進行課後學習。

學習書法益處多多

很多家長在為孩子規畫課後學習時,往往會從現實的角度切入,選擇直接對考試有幫助的課程輔導、補習;即使在選擇才藝班時,也傾向有利於多元入學的類別,而書法並不是熱門項目。不過,楊靜江從多年教學經驗看到,學習書法可以讓孩子做到「定、靜、安、慮、得」,而且孩子更有耐心,「學過書法的孩子,功課都不差。」她說。

因為書法是一種「身心活動」,其內涵、功能及價值並不只是抽象的藝術及美學層面,還有強身、健思、益智與致靜的作用,且可養成善於觀察、思考,處理事務的敏銳和寧靜頭腦。丘璇芝說:「書法是人文教育的基礎,可以培養綜觀全局的氣度,造就卓越的領導人才。」

不過,不論書法多重要、多有益於身心頭腦的運用,如果引不起孩子的興趣,還是沒有人想學。因此,書法教學必須融入更多內容,旁徵博引、深入探索,兼顧趣味與知識,帶領孩子進入以書法為核心的歷史、文化世界。丘璇芝表示,雅齋的課程有2大面向,在書學常識部分,以書體為主軸,一年為一個循環,每期探討一個專題,以啟發的方式給孩子紮實的書法藝術教育,包括文化史、不同書體的變化與歷史等等,「以講故事的方式讓孩子進入書法的世界。」

在一趟趟文字及書法的時光之旅中,丘璇芝帶著孩子們優游古今,從對書法的陌生或排斥中,一步步開始或重新認識書法藝術。楊靜江則說,能否在入門課時就抓住孩子的心很重要,因此除了楷書、歐體(歐陽修)之外,她會加入甲骨文的介紹和賞析,因為甲骨文的象形文字有如圖畫,讓學生猜謎,他們爭相搶答,她再趁機教導中國文字的變化經過,「從甲骨文變成現在我們日常書寫的文字,孩子們聽得眼睛一亮。」

生活裡的書法

從小跟著父親在書齋裡耳濡目染書法教學,再加上父親走後,丘璇芝成為雅齋的主要經營者,「我編著了龐大且有系統的書法教材,也會隨著時代社會的變化,增加新的內容與教學方式。」例如設計「書法尋寶」活動,讓孩子們在日常生活中尋找書法字體的痕跡,包括店招、一些場所的題字等,找到了就跟老師和同學分享,「這個活動讓孩子知道,其實書法離我們的生活並不遙遠。」

其次,雅齋很重視生活與品格教育。從教導孩子要有禮貌、打招呼開始,丘璇芝期待雅齋的學生尊師重道、有良好的生活習慣、培養人際互動的能力。經過書房時,講話、走路都要放輕,對這個場域自然而然地有一股尊敬的心態,「家長告訴我,好奇妙,孩子從按雅齋電鈴的那一刻起就成了『書生』,舉手投足流露出知書達禮的氣質。」有趣的是,有時候甚至孩子們會回過頭去影響家長,「學生要求父母帶他們去看于右任故居,對牆上的書法看得興味盎然。」

丘璇芝說,很多人覺得書法是一個嚴肅又枯燥的課程,特別是好動的孩子們,怎麼能靜下來、坐得住,甚至會喜歡或想學習呢?「其實,書法藝術既有趣味且內容豐富,只要教學者能夠設計好教材和教學方式,引導孩子們進入經歷數千年演變、轉化、流傳到今天仍然天天可以看見的文化藝術,拉開孩子們學習的天線,他們就會對書法藝術有完全不同的認知。」丘璇芝說,再調皮的孩子到雅齋上課一段時間後,自然就會安靜下來,因為不論是臨、摹,都會讓人進入專注的狀態,「不論以後孩子要學什麼、做什麼,具備能夠專注的能力,都是很有幫助的。」

有時碰到被父母逼來上書法課的孩子,丘璇芝也會好言相勸,請他們給書法課一個機會,「剛開始說寫字好無聊的孩子,心不甘、情不願地寫了一張書法;2個月後,他再交出書法作業時,拿出之前的書法對照,他卻怎麼樣也不肯承認那是他寫的,因為真的差太多了,連孩子自己都不相信啊。」丘璇芝說。

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EN

Calligraphy Education Gets a Makeover—An Old Art Form Attracts a Young Crowd

Polly Peng /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

On a spring weekend afternoon, the blooming azaleas outside are stunning. Surrounded by bird­song, children pass by an old carved wooden door and trickle into a classroom. Or perhaps “classroom” isn’t the best word. “The room is the study formerly used by my father Qiu Ye­hong, the school’s founder, and other members of our family.” Qiu Xuan­zhi, president of the Ya­zhai Children’s Calligraphy Association, emphasizes that although Ya­zhai teaches children calligraphy, “It’s not like the typical after-school arts academy prevalent today. Rather, we follow the approach of traditional calligraphy schools. We tailor instruction to the different aptitudes of our students in the hope that we can give them the most ideal introductory education in calligraphy.”


Confronted with calligraphy’s waning importance in Taiwan, calligrapher Qiu Ye­hong established the Ya­zhai Children’s Calligraphy Association in 1973. His daughter Qiu Xuan­zhi recalls that her father believed that the study of any art is best begun in childhood. “Consequently, when my father founded the school, he boldly tried to provide children with a systematic calligraphic education. Yang ­Ching-­chiang, honorary chair of the Tai­pei Chinese Children’s Calligraphy Education Promotion Association, who has been involved in calligraphic education for more than two decades, says, “Whether learning pen or brush calligraphy, starting in second grade is ideal.”

Qiu Yehong threw himself into children’s calligraphy education more than 40 years ago when he discovered that the regular schools weren’t giving it enough attention. Back then, from the third grade there was a weekly period on ­every student’s schedule designated for calligraphy. But these classes were often commandeered by teachers in the core academic subjects on the grounds that their classes were more important. And when the elementary and junior high curriculum was revised in 2003 to add study of a “mother language” (Taiwanese, Hakka, or an Aboriginal language), calligraphy was relegated to Chinese (Mandarin) class. It no longer had its own designated spot on the schedule.

While demand for Chinese classes has been growing stronger overseas, the teaching of calligraphy in Taiwanese schools has been in decline. Consequently, in 2009 the Ministry of Education announced a plan to improve the way that calligraphy is taught in elementary schools and junior highs. The MOE plan to “raise the effectiveness of teaching calligraphy” is now in its middle stage (2014–2017). But the MOE hasn’t announced any plan to return a designated period in the public school schedule to calligraphy. Consequently, students who are interested in calligraphy have turned to the marketplace to find courses at after-school arts academies.

Lots of benefits

Many parents, when planning their children’s after-school programs, look for practical advantage, selecting supplementary classes that will help their children with the core academic curriculum. Even when choosing arts classes, they tend to select those that they perceive as most helpful for increasing their children’s chances under the new holistic school and college admissions policies. Calligraphy is not a popular choice. Yet in his many years of teaching, Yang has observed that studying calligraphy helps students to achieve the “direction, calm, peace, awareness, and achievement” described in The Great Learning, a Chinese philosophical classic. What’s more, studying calligraphy cultivates children’s patience. “All the kids who study calligraphy get good grades.”

Yet, regardless of how important calligraphy is, or how beneficial to children’s development, if it doesn’t interest children, none will want to study it. Hence, calligraphy classes need to integrate a greater diversity of content, looking to build both interest and knowledge as they lead children step by step into the world of traditional culture and history of which calligraphy is an integral part. Qiu Xuan­zhi points out that Ya­zhai classes focus both on calligraphy’s technical aspects and its character-building qualities. Over the course of the year, the students do in-depth study on one topic each term. They end up with a comprehensive and enlightened calligraphic education that includes cultural history, the historical evolution of different calligraphic styles, and so forth.

Calligraphy in life

Exposed to the world of calligraphy from a young age in her father’s study, Qiu Xuan­zhi took over the reins at Ya­zhai after his passing. “I produced extensive and systematic calligraphic teaching materials, and in step with the changing times added new content and educational methods.” For instance, she designed a “calligraphic treasure hunt” activity, for which children find calligraphic characters in their daily lives, such as at shops or on inscriptions at nearby sites of significance. When the students find them, they share them with their teacher and classmates. “This teaches children that calligraphy isn’t so far removed from our lives.”

Yazhai also sets great store by social and character education. “The parents tell me how wonderful it is that as soon as their kids enroll at Ya­zhai, they turn into little scholars with an air of intellectual sophistication.” Interestingly, sometimes the children will turn around and influence the parents: “They will ask their parents to take them to see the Yu Youren Residence, where they peruse the calligraphy on the walls with great enthusiasm.”

Qiu says that many people regard calligraphy as an overly dry and serious form of study, wondering how it is possible to get highly active children in particular to calm down, sit still and actually enjoy learning it. “In fact, because calligraphy is an interesting art form with rich content, if the teachers can design teaching materials and methods properly so they can extend the children’s learning antennae and get them to engage with this visual representation of art and culture that has evolved over thousands of years, then the children will come to a completely different understanding of the art of calligraphy.”

Sometimes, when she comes across children who have been forced into studying calligraphy by their parents, Qiu will do her best to persuade them to give calligraphy a chance. “At first a child who says calligraphy is boring will write his characters with great reluctance and little enthusiasm. But a month or two later, if he picks up his earliest work to compare with his current efforts, he will refuse to acknowledge that he had created those early attempts, because they will differ so vastly from his current work that the child himself won’t believe he had created it.”

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