玩具醫師妙手回春

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2011 / 2月

文‧王婉嘉 圖‧林格立


玩具壞了該怎麼辦?這是許多家長和小朋友都曾面臨的問題,通常多因無計可施,索性只能順勢汰舊換新,既不環保也傷荷包。近年來,在教育部計畫推動下,於全台小學裡紛紛開設「玩具工坊」,只要帶著「掛病號」的玩具上門求診,透過「玩具醫師」的精湛醫術,故障玩具也能起死回生!


「玩具工坊」研究計畫主持人、師大工業教育系教授洪榮昭表示,計畫發想來自於有一次研究創造力發展的日本教授友人來訪,提及正與當地玩具公司合作,讓兒童帶著玩具至養老院探訪,以玩具為最佳橋樑,讓老幼同樂互動。

洪榮昭聽了以後,認為概念甚佳,應在同樣邁入「高齡化」社會的台灣推廣,但是想到國內養老院風氣不盛,且面臨「少子化」衝擊,各小學閒置空間增加,不如善加運用,主動進駐校園,於是向教育部社教司提出「玩具工坊」計畫,2006年正式上路,至今已陸續接受全台6所小學(台北市武功國小、新北市新泰國小、桃園縣中壢國小、宜蘭縣岳明國小、嘉義縣梅圳國小、台南市進學國小)主動申請,試辦「社區玩具工坊」。

而看診的玩具醫師,多來自社區愛心志工、退休銀髮族,通過專業講師教授木工、針線、創意思考玩具和鄉土童玩等培訓課程後,即可領取聘書,正式成為「玩具醫師」,不僅能讓社區長者發揮原本專長,同時學習新技能。

玩具醫師報到

以第一所「開業」的玩具工坊──新北市新莊區新泰國小為例,走進「診間」,即可看見分為內科、外科、美容醫學科等科別。今年66歲,10年前自金融業退休的「總醫師」湯秋賢說明,單純外觀毀損修補,算是美容醫學科,玩具電路板壞掉歸內科,一般手腳斷掉、解體歸外科,偶爾遇上求診小朋友心急如焚,實在等不及的,還會向醫師指名要送「急診」。

目前新泰小學約有50位的醫師團隊陣容,他們比照一般醫院門診排班,每週固定時段輪值、披上白袍一一診治、修復玩具「病患」;也為了增加學生臨場感,參照醫院掛號流程,設計送醫修復診療單與病歷表,辦理「住院手續」,為玩具診治留下就醫紀錄,治療好後再歸還給小主人,也讓孩子們知道玩具不該任意丟棄,從小養成感恩惜福、愛物惜物的好習慣。

「玩具醫院」的運作依照材質、構造區分,大略可分為布偶填充玩具、塑膠機械玩具、電子玩具等三類。

湯秋賢說,其中電子玩具最為棘手,若遇上精細的電路板故障等問題,通常只能宣告得了「不治之症」,救治無效。

但他也略顯得意說道,只要不是「絕症」,通常有9成以上玩具都能修好,目前送修仍以填充玩具為最大宗,多半是缺眼、斷手斷腳、破損等「皮肉傷」,經由簡單縫補、接合等手術即可醫治。

若是因原廠零件掉落的損壞,則必須和玩具主人討論、取得同意後,改以手邊現有素材、回收零件為玩具做「器官移植」,兼具創意和啟發性。

他隨手拿起一個斷了手臂的士兵玩偶說,因為找不到相吻合的零件替代,改以膠帶綑上紗布修補,成了一名「傷兵」,「沒有零件就動手改造,就像賦予玩具新生命一樣。」

腦力激盪舊變新

動腦思考如何修復的過程,對玩具醫師而言,也具有過關斬將的挑戰樂趣。擅長機械修理的「主治醫師」李昇兩,退休前即從事機械修護工作,本行出身、技巧熟練,週末假日也常上跳蚤市場晃晃,買些機械小玩意兒回家拆解研究。

當他上網看到玩具工坊消息之後,主動報名加入,即使家住板橋也每週固定前來新泰國小「駐診」。根據他的經驗,最常遇到玩具彈簧脫落、齒輪崩壞等問題,或是過期電池漏液滲出、腐蝕電池座導致接觸不良,只得以大小相仿的零件重新打造一個電池座取代。

李昇兩說,早期台灣物資缺乏,小時候幾乎沒能擁有什麼玩具,擔任玩具醫師後,見識到許多玩法、構造不同的新奇精緻玩具,也讓他大開眼界、直呼過癮!

湯秋賢則回憶,在上門求診各式千奇百怪的「病例」中,有次一名三年級的小女生焦急地跑來求救:「醫師爺爺,我的母雞不會生蛋了!」當時他心裡納悶,玩具醫生何時這麼有本領,連母雞不孕症也能幫忙醫?等到她拿出玩具,他才恍然大悟,原來學生口中的「母雞」,是一個機械齒輪構造的塑膠玩具,因為齒輪鬆脫,導致內裝的雞蛋卡住。

找出病因後,他開始準備拆解、修復,但是他直盯著母雞研究許久,心想所有螺絲都取下了,為何還是不能將頭部拆開,才發現原來關鍵的兩根螺絲就藏在母雞眼珠後面,這才大功告成,讓小主人重展笑顏。

除了修理損壞玩具,玩具工坊的醫師及志工們,也會利用廢棄寶特瓶、養樂多罐等材料,巧手自製環保玩具。

例如外型討喜的「玉兔搗米」,是湯秋賢利用寶特瓶、竹筷和不織布做成,只要推動竹筷,兩隻玉兔就會輪流搗米。

或者像他至日本博物館取經後製成的「浮沈子」,作法是將寶特瓶裝滿水,裡面放個小玩偶,利用「巴斯卡原理」的流體靜力學,手捏寶特瓶來改變瓶內壓力,玩偶就會由上往下移動,每每示範都反應熱烈,讓小朋友覺得像魔術般神奇。

心靈療癒

再以另一所設有玩具工坊的中壢國小為例,今年70歲、在校內擔任志工已近20年的謝榮秋,是全校知名的「玩具爺爺」,因家中經營五金水電行的緣故,具有各式工程的基礎工夫,過去學校只要紗窗、桌椅壞了,甚或建造水池、砌磚都由他出馬,校園角落還有一間專屬木工室,每日天光未開的清晨時分,就能看見他忙碌上工的身影,即使3年前他因一時不慎,鋸木板時鋸斷了一節左手食指,送醫包紮後仍堅持重返志工行列。

玩具工坊開張後,謝榮秋不光修理送上門的故障玩具,也以廢木板自製七巧板、彈珠台,或帶領志工們以剪去中段瓶身的寶特瓶,黏合頭尾後,再將底部釘上椅腳釘改造為陀螺,再現鄉土童玩,也與孩子們一同溫習兒時趣味。

中壢國小另一名玩具醫師陳淑玲提到,在玩具工坊,「老師」和「學生」的角色時常互換,老師可以從與孩子相處中學習遊戲的新玩法,他們也會帶著自製玩具至各班巡迴教學,而孩童的嬉鬧笑語與表達的感謝之情,對玩具工坊團隊來說,是心頭最大慰藉。她笑說,常常忙碌兜轉一上午後,原本心中暗藏的種種不愉快都煙消雲散。

中壢國小校長王國雄認為,技能課程加上心靈療癒,是玩具工坊最吸引人的獨特誘因。隨著高齡化人口升高,更應開啟多元管道的社會教育,拓展樂齡學習的可能性。美術教育出身的王國雄以玩具工坊牆上色彩濃烈的壁畫為例,他主動提議以18世紀奇想風格的法國畫家盧梭畫作為靈感後,讓志工自由發揮而成,成果令人驚喜。

洪榮昭更進一步分析,對銀髮族來說,兒孫繞膝的童言童語,就是「幸福感」的體現,再加上孩童對讚美之辭較不扭捏、害臊,一看到玩具修好就會興奮直誇:「阿公,你好厲害!」

這種種藉由心境轉換、發想玩具創作得到的快樂、成就感,都能讓長者感到個人生命價值持續創造的新意義。

就兒童心理發展層面來看,洪榮昭則認為,如有玩具成為孩子的心理依託,不因故障就隨意丟棄,也是品德教育的一環。換言之,會惜福愛物、珍惜玩具的孩子,長大後蠻橫無禮、缺乏同理心,甚至霸凌他人的可能性都會大為降低。

而目前除了玩具醫院外,新泰國小也於2007年率先成立全台第一座「玩具物流中心」,肩負起募集各地玩具製造業者或是個人捐贈的二手玩具,經由清洗整理、維修後,流通到全台其他小學附設的玩具圖書館或育幼院、分享資源。

早已因玩具醫師身分,名聲遠播全台的湯秋賢則表示,他希望未來服務範圍能繼續擴大至其它小學,由玩具醫師出動「義診」,繼續診治全台各個鄉鎮角落的玩具病患。

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近期文章

EN

Toy Doctors-A New Lease on Life

Wang Wan-chia /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Scott Gregory

When a toy breaks, what can you do? This is a question many parents and kids alike have faced. In most cases, there's no choice but to simply throw it out and buy a new one. But that's not good for the environment or the pocketbook. In recent years, under the direction of the Ministry of Education, elementary schools throughout Taiwan have been opening "Toy Workshops." Just bring in your "injured" toys, and the "toy doctors" will do their best to bring them back to health!


The head of the Toy Workshop initiative, National Taiwan Normal University professor of industrial education Hong Jon-chao, says the idea came during a visit by a friend, a professor from Japan who studies the development of creativity. The friend mentioned he was working with a Japanese toy manufacturer on a project to have children bring their toys along with them on visits to retirement homes. The toys serve as a way for young and old to come together and interact with one another.

When Hong heard this, he thought it was an excellent idea and that it should be extended to Taiwan as well, as Taiwan too has an aging society. But when he considered the relative rarity of retirement homes in Taiwan and the amount of empty space in Taiwan's elementary schools due to the low birth rate, he thought it would be better to turn the program around and bring it to the schools. He then proposed the Toy Workshop idea to the Ministry of Education's Department of Social Education, and in 2006 it was officially begun. As of now, six elementary schools around Taiwan (Wu-gong Elementary in Tai-pei City, Xin-tai Elementary in New Tai-pei City, Chungli Elementary in Tao-yuan County, Yue-ming Elementary in Yi-lan County, Mei-zhen Elementary in Chiayi County, and Jinxue Elementary in Tai-nan City) have applied on their own initiative to take part and set up experimental community toy workshops.

And the "toy doctors" accepting "patients" are for the most part retiree volunteers from the local communities. After taking classes in woodworking, sewing, creative thinking, and traditional toys for children, a trainee can receive a certificate and officially become a toy doctor. Not only do the elderly of the community get a chance to show off their own skills, they get to learn some new ones as well.

Toy doctor on duty

Take as an example the first Toy Workshop to open-the one in Xin-tai Elementary, in New Taipei City's Xin-zhuang District. As soon as you enter the "clinic," you can see departments such as internal medicine, surgery, and plastic surgery. The "chief doctor" is 66-year-old Tang Qiu-xian, who retired from the financial industry 10 years ago. Tang says that simple cosmetic repairs are plastic surgery, repairs to toys' circuitry are internal medicine, and cases of pieces breaking or coming off are surgical cases. Sometimes overly anxious kids who can't wait for their toys to be fixed will even ask for an "emergency room."

Xin-tai Elementary currently has a team of around 50 toy doctors, who put on their whites and see toy patients in set weekly shifts just like at a real clinic. Also, in order to create an atmosphere for the kids, it is set up so a visit follows the same process as for a real clinic. There are treatment lists and patient charts to fill out when a patient checks in. Records of the treatments are made and returned to the toys' owners after the work is finished. This also makes children aware that toys don't have to be discarded so easily-this fosters in them a sense of appreciation and a habit of taking care of things.

The operations of the "Toy Hospital" are categorized by the toys' materials and structure, roughly falling into three types: stuffed animals, plastic mechanical toys, and electronic toys.

Tang says that of these, electronic toys are the toughest. When faced with a problem of broken delicate circuitry, the doctors usually can only pronounce the toy "untreatable."

But he also says with pride that outside of such cases of "incurable diseases," they can fix more than nine toys out of 10. Currently, most toys brought in are stuffed animals with "flesh wounds" such as missing eyes or torn limbs that can be fixed by simple sewing or mending.

If a toy is missing an original part, they have to consult with its owner and, if the owner finds it acceptable, they will use substitutes or scrap parts they have on hand to conduct a "transplant." They also exercise their creativity.

Tang picks up a soldier action figure with a broken arm and says that since they couldn't find a substitute that matched, they wrapped it in gauze and made an "injured soldier." "If you don't have the part, you make something," he says. "It's like giving the toy a new life."

Mental stimulation

To the toy doctors, mulling over how to fix a toy is an enjoyable challenge. Li Shengliang, a chief doctor who specializes in fixing mechanical toys, was a mechanic before he retired. He's got a background in the field and a strong skill set, and on weekends and holidays he often goes to flea markets to buy mechanical gizmos to take apart and study.

When he read about the Toy Workshop online, he made the initiative to sign up. Even though he lives in Banqiao, he goes to Xintai Elementary twice a week to "see patients." In his experience, the most common problems in toys are things like loose springs and broken gears, or poor connections due to leaky batteries corroding terminals, in which case a new battery casing can be made from parts of similar size.

Li says that when he was a kid, Taiwan was less developed and he had hardly any toys at all. Since he became a toy doctor, seeing so many different kinds of wonderful toys has been an eye-opening experience.

Tang then recalls some of the funny cases he's had. Once, a third-grader girl came in in a panic, saying, "Doctor, my chicken can't lay eggs!" He was wondering how this was supposed to be his department when the girl took out a toy and he finally understood: the "chicken" was a plastic mechanical toy, and because the gears had come loose, its eggs were stuck inside.

After he'd figured out the problem, he was preparing to take the toy apart and fix it. But he wondered why the head wouldn't come apart even though he thought he'd taken all the screws out. He studied it for a while and found two more screws hidden behind the chicken's eyes. Then he was able to fix it and put a smile on the little owner's face.

In addition to fixing broken toys, the Toy Workshop doctors and volunteers can also use materials like discarded plastic bottles to create clever, environmentally friendly toys.

Therapy for the soul

Another example of a school with a Toy Workshop is Chungli Elementary. Xie Rongqiu, who is 70 years old and has been a volunteer at the school for 20 years, is known to the students as "Grandpa Toys." As he runs a hardware supply and works as an electrician and plumber, he's got basic abilities in all sorts of construction. In the past, he's come to help whenever the school's had a torn window screen or a broken desk. He's made a pond and done brickwork. There's even a woodworking studio in one corner of the campus, where he can be seen working away every day before dawn. Three years ago, he cut off the tip of his left forefinger while working with a saw. But after going to the hospital and getting bandaged up, he insisted on going back to volunteer.

Since the Toy Workshop opened, he's not only been fixing broken toys but also making new ones. He's used discarded wood to make tangram puzzles and bagatelle games. He's also worked with other volunteers to make toy tops out of plastic bottles by cutting off the top and bottom, gluing them together, and attaching a furniture foot pad to the bottom. He gives these toys to the local kids and shows them how to use them.

Another toy doctor at Chungli Elementary, Chen Shuling, says the sounds of the kids happily playing and their words of thanks are the greatest comforts to the Toy Workshop team. She says with a smile that as they work through a busy morning, any unhappiness they may have had usually disappears.

Chungli Elementary principal Wang Kuo-hsiung believes that the therapeutic function of the technical classes is the biggest draw of the Toy Workshop volunteer program. With Taiwan's aging population, more multifaceted forms of community education are needed in order to give those in their golden years more possibilities for learning. Wang, who has a background in art education, points to the colorful painting on the Toy Workshop wall as an example. He pointed the volunteers to the work of eighteenth-century French painter Rousseau for inspiration and let them come up with their own ideas. The results are striking.

Hong Jon-chao goes a step further in his analysis. To the silver-haired set, he says, the sound of children playing at their feet brings contentment. Also, kids are more direct and quicker to give praise-as soon as they see their toys fixed, they say, "Grandpa, you're fantastic!"

The uplifting happiness that having an outlet for creativity brings, and the sense of accomplishment, give seniors a new lease on life.

From the aspect of children's psychological development, Hong believes that if having toys is a means of psychological support for a child, then not simply throwing them away when they break is a kind of lesson in values. In other words, children who can take care of their things and cherish toys will be much less likely to be disrespectful, uncaring, or controlling to others.

Also, in addition to the Toy Hospital, Xintai Elementary has Taiwan's first Toy Exchange Center. Started in 2007, the center collects second-hand toys donated by manufacturers and owners, cleans and repairs them, and sends them to toy libraries at other schools and homes for children around Taiwan to share resources.

Tang, who's known throughout Taiwan for his work as a toy doctor, says that he hopes to expand the program to more schools in the future and serve toy patients throughout Taiwan.

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