美感藏在生活裡

不一樣的教室風景
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2018 / 1月

文‧陳群芳 圖‧美感細胞 翻譯‧Mark Rawson


如果教室裡有張沙發,可以拿本書自在地窩在上頭閱讀。或者教室的外觀變成洞穴、竹屋甚至碉堡,那會是什麼樣的光景?這是新北市崇德國小老師黃國平為孩子營造的教室風景。

當課本不再只有單調的文字與不太吸引人的圖片,而能玩起填字遊戲、刮畫,或是運用注音符號貼紙設計專屬封面,讓課本變得活潑而繽紛。由三位年輕人組成的美感細胞團隊,正致力改變教科書的樣貌。

一場場美學教育的改變正在發生,將美感藏在孩子生活裡,在幼小心靈裡播下美麗的種子。

 


 

歷經半年籌備,20179月全台第一間由宜家家居(IKEA)打造的夢幻教室,在新北市汐止崇德國小正式亮相。

鵝黃色的天花板,靛藍色牆面,窗戶上一整片有著各色各樣綠葉的窗簾。亮黃色和白色的餐椅與可收併的木桌,取代傳統沉甸甸的課桌椅。「哇!好漂亮」、「你看,有自己的書包櫃耶!」新學期的一開始,學生走進自己上課的教室,忍不住驚呼。

與眾不同夢幻教室

新北市教育局與宜家家居合作校園改造計畫,經過評選,最後選出三個企劃,崇德國小導師黃國平的教室便是第一間美麗變身的成功案例。黃國平表示:「原本以為只是提供幾個書櫃讓我美化教室,第一次討論會議時,竟來了整組設計團隊說要將教室大改造。」黃國平這才驚覺是來真的。

設計師訪談黃國平對教室的想像:桌椅可以摺疊收納、空間能有更多的變化和組合、顏色豐富、有家的感覺,「教室不只是學生上課的地方,也是生活的地方。孩子一天當中最清醒的時間就是在教室度過,所以希望將教室營造出家的感覺,是可以放鬆的。」這是黃國平對教室的期待。

設計團隊以「學生安全」為優先考量,加入具有設計感的家具與家飾。可折疊的桌子,展開能坐6人,學生彼此相對,方便小組討論。將兩側桌面向下收闔就僅剩一個瘦長的長方體,再往兩側牆壁一放,就能空出教室中央的空間練習舞蹈表演,或是關上燈,大家坐在地上欣賞影片,隨即成了星空電影院,讓空間的運用充滿彈性。

強調整體感,黃國平和設計團隊在教室後方大膽使用整面書櫃來取代傳統的布告欄。白色的書櫃,搭配草綠色或白色櫃門,又或是竹籃、深綠色布籃,彼此錯落。利用色彩的搭配,再加上盆栽、玩偶的裝飾,書櫃瞬間就活了起來。

書櫃前方的布沙發也令人為之一亮,上方擺著抱枕,讓教室充滿居家的溫馨。下課時間,挑本喜歡的書,不論是書櫃前的沙發,或是老師辦公桌前方的地毯,找個喜歡的角落就能自在閱讀。教室的每一處都有它的美,午休時間,孩子甚至能自在地選擇要趴在桌上或是席地而睡,每個孩子都能找到自己喜歡的空間。

黑板前方傳統式的講桌,在黃國平的教室裡,一張筆電大小的站立式工作桌就能取代。吧台椅是讓黃國平倍感貼心的設計,讓老師能放鬆坐在講台上與學生互動,能隨時下台走動,又能緩解整堂課站著的不適。黃國平開玩笑地說,這椅子太舒服,每個老師都該有一張,就能讓教學氛圍大大不同。

改造後的教室,風格清新而明亮,以綠色為主色,視覺上很舒服。光是走進教室就讓人充滿活力,不只符合黃國平期待,甚至超出預期,讓他直呼就像是美夢成真。

教室就是溫馨的家

要從眾多企畫中獲得青睞,這一切並非偶然,而是黃國平十多年來努力營造教室氛圍的累積。

「台灣教室的風景幾十年來幾乎沒有甚麼改變,教改一直在改課綱,但在乎的都是課程內容的改變,沒有考量到環境的營造。」黃國平表示。每次出國都被國外風景吸引,當一個國家的人都沉浸在那樣的環境裡成長時,美感就不需要刻意教育,而是一種自然存在。對黃國平而言,營造美麗舒適的環境,至關重要。

從黃國平開始當導師,他就自己動手布置教室,百貨公司型錄、設計感強的宣傳品,都能成為他的靈感。黃國平會以紙雕拼貼卡通人物來布置布告欄,自費買來窗簾、桌布,甚至購來二手皮沙發,只為了讓教室美觀而溫馨。

前些年黃國平在桃園機場附近的大園國小任教,因為機場的關係,教室不能開窗,加上開學時看到學生領書後丟棄包裝在外層的牛皮紙實在可惜。於是他靈機一動,把布置的舞台擴展到教室外牆,將牛皮紙揉皺,包裹在外牆,製造出洞穴的感覺。

黃國平也曾用牛皮紙捲成細長筒仿造成竹子,前後用了兩百多張牛皮紙,將教室外觀布置成竹屋。上頭還用水彩顏料畫上紋路,幾可亂真的程度,讓前來學校運動的民眾都忍不住用手戳看看。黃國平利用寒暑假的時間布置教室,自掏腰包又花時間,有時還會做到手起水泡。但黃國平說:「布置的過程中我充滿期待又享受。」能將想法付諸實現,開學時看到學生充滿驚喜的表情,就是他最大的滿足。

美感教育從環境開始,讓孩子生活在用心布置的空間,孩子便能受到薰陶。黃國平曾經教過的學生後來也成為老師,效法黃國平教室布置的精神,把自己的教室打點的美輪美奐,將黃國平在他心裡播下的美感種子,繼續傳遞下去。

把美術館搬上桌

認同美感教育從環境開始的,不只是老師,推動教科書改造的「美感細胞」就是三位致力提升台灣美學素養的年輕人所組成。林宗諺、陳慕天、張柏韋三位國立交通大學的同學,結識於校內社團活動,在分享各自出國的經驗後,彼此都驚嘆國外市容的美麗。大至街景建築,小到海報傳單,彷彿信手拈來的設計感,引發他們思考改善台灣美感教育的可能。

美感需要長時間培養與接觸,經過反覆的討論激盪,相較於改建大樓、重造招牌,改造教科書的成本相對較低,但影響的層面更為廣泛。不論都市或鄉鎮,每個孩子每天都必須使用教科書,這或許也能消彌美感教育的城鄉差距。

「給我們一本課本,我們給孩子一座美術館。」是美感細胞的初衷,讓孩子只要翻開課本,就能接觸充滿美學的作品。2013年,當時還沒畢業的三個人,便毅然決定發起「美感教科書計畫」。

非設計領域也不是教育科系的他們,憑著改變台灣美感教育的熱忱,一股傻勁地栽了進去。他們研究兒童心理學、色彩學等,也透過各種管道尋找設計師,初期資源有限,他們帶著簡報向願意面談的設計師,說明自己的理念,雖無法提供相應酬勞,但希望能找到認同理念的設計者一起參與。張柏韋表示,回想起來早期的陌生開發,真的很像詐騙集團,說著抽象的概念,唯一的酬勞只有「真心誠意」。

歷經數月奔走,終於找來十多位設計師,共同打造一本顛覆眾人想像的國語課本。換上不同字體,配上活潑有趣的插圖,給內頁多一點的留白。版面具有現代感的視覺傳達設計,讓國語課本不再只是學中文,更能學美感。

「這是一本我想好好保存的課本」、「這個插圖好漂亮」……環島發書的過程中,孩子收到課本時的驚喜表情,更讓團隊確定自己前進的方向。

耕耘孩子美麗的未來

就像在發書時被孩子問到,如何實現夢想,張柏韋告訴孩子,很多事情沒有想像中困難,只要去做。也許第一次只有50分,但繼續做下去第二次、第三次,就會越來越好,離夢想就會越來越近。每一代的美感教科書都蘊含了團隊的不同目標,第一代成功驗證了計畫的價值,第二代則嘗試不同年級的可能。

有了前兩代教科書的經驗,2017年美感細胞推出的美感教科書第三代,團隊將課本的觸角從國語延伸至英語、數學、自然、社會,分別由不同設計師企劃。陳慕天認為,每位設計師都是一個策展人,讓設計師依其對該科目的想像自由去設計課本。

陳慕天表示,每本課本的任務不同,從社會、國語、自然、英語、數學,越前面越符合現行法規與使用情況,而光譜的另一端則是在沒有任何限制下,讓設計師盡情發揮創意的理想值。希望透過這樣的規劃,讓政府看見教科書的更多可能。

由設計師方序中所設計的數學課本,左右對開的開本方式,可以任意摺疊,讓課本宛如變形金剛。自然課本在設計師王艾莉的嘗試下,將實驗器材與步驟以棚拍方式呈現,提升圖片質感。內頁的底色也根據不同實驗的特性,氣體實驗用冷色調的藍色,燃燒實驗則是暖色調呈現。

社會課本由擅長資訊設計的「圖文不符」操刀,透過圖像讓資訊的傳達更加一目了然。用逛夜市的插圖介紹食物,性別平權、原民議題也都以圖像表現,激發想像,給予孩子與老師討論的空間。

設計師馮宇則在國語課本裡加入符合課文意涵的圖片,例如在談時間規劃的那課,設計時間帳本,讓孩子規劃自己的時間,引導學生思考。設計師陳永基的創意,讓英語課本充滿當代藝術的視覺衝擊,封面以彩色方格填空遊戲呈現,讓孩子能自由發揮。

這些充滿設計概念的課本,已分送全台各縣市一百七十多所小學,當孩子在12年國教,無數個上課的時光,若能浸潤在這些美麗的課本裡,勢必能帶給孩子在色彩敏銳度、激發創意等方面不同的想像空間。

在四年多的努力下,美感教科書計畫,撼動了大眾對課本的想像,也許現行的法規並無法讓教科書迅速進行大幅度的改變。宛如盤根錯節,老師、家長、學生、出版社、政府、審定專家等都牽動了教科書的樣貌。但任何一點的改變,如從制度鬆綁對課本字型、圖片、版面甚至定價的規定,讓台灣優秀的設計能力進入教科書,給予課本更多發揮的空間。美感細胞讓各界看見了教科書的新視野。

從教室環境到教科書的設計,透過改變這些陪伴孩子生命中重要時刻的媒材,讓美感教育不再只是上美術課、逛美術館,而是將美感藏在生活裡,重新賦予美感教育新的定義。                       

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近期文章

英文

Making Beauty Part of Life

Chen Chun-fang /photos courtesy of Aestheticell /tr. by Mark Rawson

If a classroom contained a sofa or its exterior became a cave, what kind of scene would that be? These are examples of the classroom landscapes created for children by teacher ­Huang Kuo­ping of New Tai­pei City’s ­Chong De Elementary School.

When textbooks have boxes to fill in with words and pictures, they become lively and fun. Aestheticell, formed by three young people, is striving to change the face of Taiwan’s textbooks.

Changes are afoot in aesthetic education, making a sense of beauty part of children’s lives, and planting beautiful seeds in their hearts.

 


 

In September, 2017, Taiwan’s first Dream Classroom, built by IKEA, made its appearance at ­Chong De Elementary School in Xi­zhi, New Tai­pei City.

Its ceiling is pale yellow, its walls indigo. The windows are graced with curtains patterned with all varieties of green leaves. Bright yellow and white dining chairs and wooden tables that can be grouped together have replaced the traditional desks and chairs.

A dream classroom different from the rest

Chong De Elementary School teacher ­Huang ­Kuo­ping’s classroom is the first beautiful incarnation of the New Tai­pei City Education Department’s and IKEA’s campus improvement project.

The room’s designers interviewed ­Huang about his conception of a classroom: desks and chairs that can be folded for storage, space that can be varied and combined in different ways, rich colors, a homely feel. “A classroom is not just a place where students attend class, it’s also where they live their lives. The parts of the day when children are most awake are spent in the classroom, so we hoped to give it a homely feel, a sense that one can relax.” This is ­Huang’s vision of a classroom.

The folding desks can seat six persons, the students sitting opposite each other, which is convenient for discussions in groups. Fold down the two sides of a desktop and all that remains is a slim cuboid. Move them aside and you can empty out the classroom’s central space to practice a dance performance, or turn out the lights and everyone can enjoy a movie while seated on the floor, giving the feeling of an outdoor movie theater. It’s a highly flexible space.

To provide a unifying theme, ­Huang and the design team boldly replaced the traditional bulletin board at the back of the room with a row of bookcases—white with grass-green and white doors, and randomly positioned bamboo baskets and dark green cloth baskets. The color combination and some decorative pot plants and figurines bring the bookcases to life.

The cloth sofa in front of the bookcases lends the classroom all the warmth of home. Choose a book and, be it on the sofa or on the rug in front of the teacher’s work desk, pick the spot you prefer and you can read to your heart’s content. Each part of the classroom has its own beauty. At noon break students can even choose for themselves whether to take their siesta with their heads resting on the desks or to sleep on the floor. Each child can find a space to their own liking.

One need only to enter the remodeled classroom to feel invigorated by its fresh, clean, bright style and observe that a beautiful dream has been realized.   

The classroom as home

That his project was chosen from among so many reflects ­Huang’s cumulative efforts over more than ten years to remold the classroom ambience.

“Taiwan’s classroom landscape has barely changed at all in decades. With educational reform we are constantly changing the curriculum, but we have only concerned ourselves with course content. We haven’t considered how to shape the environment,” he laments.

Since he first became a homeroom teacher, ­Huang has taken the initiative to decorate his classrooms, pasting on the bulletin board cartoon figures cut out of ­paper, buying curtains, tablecloths and even a secondhand leather sofa, just to give the classroom a warm and attractive appearance.

A few years ago, ­Huang taught at Da Yuan Elementary School near Tao­yuan International Airport. Because of the airport, the windows in the classroom couldn’t be opened, and it seemed a shame at the beginning of the semester to see the students, after receiving their new books, throw away the brown paper wrapping. So he had a bright idea: to expand the arena for classroom decoration to the classroom’s outside walls, by crumpling up the brown paper and covering the wall of the corridor around the classroom door with it, creating the impression of a cave entrance.

He used winter and summer vacations to do this and other projects in his own time and at his own expense. Sometimes he labored so hard he got blisters on his hands. But he says that during the course of the work he was full of expectation and enjoyment. His greatest satisfaction came at the beginning of the semester, when he saw the students’ expressions of total surprise and joy.

When children are able to live in a thoughtfully designed and decorated space, something of it will rub off on them, helping them to develop an aesthetic sense of their own. Some of ­Huang’s former students who have become teachers themselves have emulated his approach, decorating their classrooms beautifully and continuing to spread the aesthetic seeds that ­Huang sowed in their hearts.

Desktop art galleries

Endorsement of aesthetic education begins with the environment, not just with teachers. Aestheticell, a group that is promoting textbook reform, was formed by three young people who are striving to advance Taiwan’s aesthetic accomplishments. Three classmates from National ­Chiao Tung University—Lin ­Tsung-yen, Swi Chen and Wayne ­Chang—met for the first time at a student society event on campus. After sharing each other’s experiences of going overseas, they reveled in their shared admiration of the beauty of foreign cities. An apparently effortless sense of design expressed in everything from streetscapes and architecture down to posters and flyers set them thinking about how to improve aesthetic education in Taiwan.

Developing an aesthetic sense demands long-term cultivation and contact, and repeated discussion. Compared to remodeling buildings or revamping signboards, the redesign of textbooks is relatively inexpensive, but its influence is more far-reaching.   

“Give us a textbook and we’ll give the children an art gallery.” This was the founding purpose behind Aes­theti­cell: to enable children to access richly aesthetic works simply by opening a textbook. In 2013 the three, who had not yet graduated, made a firm decision to launch their Aesthetic Textbook Project.

After a frenetic few months, they finally found ten or so designers and together they overturned every­one’s conception of a textbook for Chinese class. They enhanced the content by mixing and matching different typefaces and developing lively and entertaining illustrations. The layout presented a design based on modern principles of visual communication, making a Chinese textbook no longer just for the study of Chinese but also for the study of aesthetics.

Just do it

When Wayne ­Chang is out distributing books, children often ask him how they can realize their dreams. He tells them things are not as difficult as they imagine; they just have to go ahead and do it. Maybe the first time you achieve only 50 percent, but you carry on and the second and third time it’s better and better, closer and closer to your dream. Each generation of the aesthetic textbooks embodies different objectives of the team. The first generation confirmed the value of the project. The second explored different possibilities for different age groups.

With the experience of two generations of textbooks behind them, in their third generation of textbooks the Aestheticell team has extended the scope of the books from Chinese to English, math, natural science and society, with a different designer handling each subject area. Swi Chen believes that each designer is a curator, so each is given the freedom to design the textbook in accordance with their conception of the subject.

Chen says the task of each book is different. Across the range of subjects, from society and Chinese to natural science, English and math, some conform closely to current legislation and usage, while at the other end of the spectrum there are no restrictions at all, allowing the designers to exercise their creative values just as they wish.

The foldout page format of the math textbook by designer Joe Fang seems like something out of Transformers. By the endeavors of designer Alice Wang, the equipment and procedures of the experiments in the natural science textbook are presented in high-quality photographs. The pages’ background colors accord with the different natures of the experiments. For experiments involving gases it’s a cold-hued blue. For those involving combustion, warmer tones are adopted.

The society textbook was produced by information design firm Simpleinfo, whose illustrations enable the ­information to be conveyed at a glance. It introduces foods with illustrations of visits to night markets. Gender equality and the issues of indigenous peoples are also presented through images, stimulating the imagination and giving children and teachers scope for discussion. 

In the Chinese textbook, designer Feng Yu uses graphics appropriate to the content of the text. When discussing time management, for example, he includes a time recording chart to enable children to plan their own time and to get them to think about the topic. Designer Leslie Chan’s creativity delivers an English textbook rich in the visual impact of contemporary art. Its cover features blank spaces for children to fill with words or pictures just as they please.   

These textbooks rich in design concepts have been distributed to 170 schools throughout Taiwan. If during their 12 years of compulsory education and countless in-class hours, children can immerse themselves in these beautiful books, they are bound to experience a different world of the imagination in terms of the keenness of their color perception and their inspiration to creativity. 

The Aesthetic Textbook Project has shaken up every­one’s idea of the textbook, but current legislation may prevent significant changes from being made any time soon. Yet any change, however small, such as relaxing the regulations about textbooks’ typefaces, illustrations, layouts and even price, can give rein to the skills of outstanding Taiwanese designers, and so enhance textbooks’ impact.

From the classroom environment to the design of textbooks, by changing these media that accompany children during an important time in their lives, we can make “aesthetic education” no longer just about art classes or visits to art galleries, but about making a sense of beauty an integral part of life, bringing a whole new meaning to the term.     

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