學學習事件譜 —— 藝術家對談
The Situation of Learning — Artist Talk
2019年末，為期兩年的天台塾項目「學學習：15個以藝術作為參與式學習的倡議」（下稱「學學習」）剛好完成一半，十五個受邀藝術家／單位之中的七個已完成工作坊，展覽與分享會算是中期小結，當日邀來藝術家梁展峰、雄仔叔叔 + 梁妍、鍾惠恩 + 吳家俊 (Mudwork)、許敖山、勞麗麗及梁皓然分享他們在過程中的觀察與體會，並由帶領學生參與計劃的官立中學教師關太作回應。項目的成果還包括將藝術家和參與者的互動過程整理成「教案」，但這個轉換，無論對藝術家抑或天台塾來說都是挑戰。這次分享茶會也旨在跟與會的各路教育工作者一起討論工作坊的經驗如何能轉換成教育者能應用的教學資源。
At the end of 2019, the two-year Rooftop Institute programme ‘Hok Hok Zaap (HHZ): 15 Initiatives of Engaged Learning in Art’ (hereinafter ‘HHZ’) was halfway through and seven of the 15 invited artists/groups had completed their workshops. The exhibition and sharing session can be considered as a mid-term summary. On that day, artists Jeff Leung, Uncle Hung Jai + Yan Liang, Chung Wai Ian + Ng Ka Chun (Mudwork), Nerve, Lo Lai Lai and Leung Ho Yin were invited to share their observations and experiences in the process. Government secondary school teacher Mrs Kwan who led the students to participate in one of the projects was there to respond. The programme’s achievements also include the ‘teaching plans’ compiled from the interaction between the artists and the participants. Nevertheless, this conversion has proven to be a challenge for both the artists and Rooftop Institute. This tea sharing session also aimed to discuss with the various education practitioners about how the workshop experience could be transformed into teaching resources that educators could use.
The conscious issue of ‘HHZ’ is: ‘Assuming each of us puts our imagination of “learning” into the creative thinking and its practice processes, what are we going to experience/create?’. Co-founder of Rooftop Institute, Law Yuk Mui, first invited the artists present to discuss how ‘learning’ had taken place in their workshops. The seven units of workshops were designed by the artists/groups, who linked them to their respective artistic practices. They were conducted through different forms, such as field investigations, sound experiments, games, questionnaires and researches. Jeff Leung believes the participants attending the workshop, who knew about his role as a curator, hoped to learn from his experience. He said his practice in recent years has mainly been guided tours and he has always felt that the audience only wants to know the ‘answers’ behind the works. Thus, this time, in the form of games, the participants were invited to observe the works carefully and write down the observations. He found that there were discrepancies between the learning and the participants’ expectations. Mudwork’s workshop allowed participants to learn ‘to do it yourself’. Chung Wai Ian hoped that, through several workshop exercises, they could get used to hand-making and looking at assorted items with new eyes – the next time they want something, they can do it themselves, instead of making a purchase.
Certainly, the workshops were not merely one-way ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’; the learners were not only participants. Nerve’s workshop for the visually impaired was divided into two parts. One of them enabled participants to listen to what they usually did not have the opportunity to hear, whereas the other invited participants to make sounds with objects. A participant with severe eczema proposed to use his own skin to make sounds. He rubbed his skin at different speeds that made faint sounds people generally would not have noticed. He shared his experience living with those sounds for decades. He has grown gradually from exasperation to accepting it as part of himself. Nerve found the process unexpected and memorable. As for Lo Lai Lai, ‘Half-Farming, Half-X’ has always been her practical way of working, creating and living. She has a dual identity as a farmer and an artist. During the workshop, she observed the excitement of the secondary school students in the field, which unexpectedly allowed her to retrieve her initial aspiration to cultivate.
One of the issues that preoccupied Rooftop Institute and the artists was, how would ‘HHZ’ be different from the educational activities that usually take place in traditional learning venues such as schools? Take Lo Lai Lai's workshop as an example, Law Yuk Mui and Mrs Kwan both consider what Lo carried out ‘experiential learning’, where students could find their own ways of participation and observation. Law Yuk Mui thinks ‘HHZ’ differs from school activities in two main ways. One is the actualisation of intergenerational learning and the other is the possibility of ‘teaching plans’ as a teaching method derived from exploration. In the past, the learning activities of Rooftop Institute mostly targeted a single community, e.g. activities targeting young people. Yet, this time Mudwork’s and Leung Ho Yin’s workshops consisted of intergenerational elements. Through the parent-child workshop, Mudwork would like parents to make toy furniture with their children and experience their children’s love for their own handmade objects. Leung Ho Yin pointed out that intergenerational learning is now prevalent in the social welfare sector. However, to meet the expectations of social harmony, it’s generally necessary to bring along positive impressions. He instead questioned the outcome of intergenerational exchange that’s not necessarily happy and positive. The thought increased the activity’s uncertainties. Unexpected incidents did occur as a result. Some participants were rather emotional and needed to be assisted by the social workers present. But at the same time, it opened up a possibility unlike common intergenerational learning.
The teaching plans, on the other hand, concern the programme’s continuity issue. The two-year programme has always been limited by resources. Merely four lessons in each series of workshops might be a bit of a rush. Therefore, the organisation initially planned to let educators utilise the teaching plans and extend the results of the workshops. Nevertheless, it was also clear to Rooftop Institute that once the teaching plan element had been proposed, it would inevitably limit the artists’ workshop design; they were still exploring and handling the obstacles posed by this approach. The education practitioners who responded on the spot also agreed that even after handing the teaching plans to teachers, there would still be a lack of manpower to teach. In fact, teachers may not have the confidence to achieve the same effect.
In this part of the discussion, Uncle Hung Jai is a great example. Law Yuk Mui recalled Uncle Hung Jai had once asked kindergarten teachers not to prepare teaching plans. His ‘teaching plans’ are not manual-like instructions, but something almost like personal insights. Uncle Hung Jai added that, in fact, this statement came with a premise that the person leading the workshop must prepare himself and become one of the participants there, taking up a role just like the other participants. Only in this way can he truly listen, perceive and respond. Tammy, who observed the workshop, thinks Uncle Hung Jai had used his entire life to prepare. His accumulated creativity is the basis for his whole-hearted engagement on the spot and his spontaneous communication with the children.
Law Yuk Mui finally concluded that they had first considered how teachers could apply teaching plans to academic subjects, but later found the idea mistaken. The so-called teaching plans do not have to correspond to school education. However, in the end, they still made use of the clear structure of teaching plans in an attempt to record the interaction between the artists and the participants. In the realm of contemporary art, production approaches such as exhibitions are mostly recorded by catalogues. However, in recent years, different funding agencies have invested a lot of resources in ‘learning’ and ‘public’ activities. Even as a part of an exhibition, this type of production is rarely recorded systematically. It often only happens once and for all. As a result, only a small number of people present can benefit. The attempts Rooftop Institute and various artists made in ‘HHZ’ through teaching plans as a record medium are undoubtedly important in this context. Eight groups of artists who are going to host workshops in the second year of the programme will also continue to transform the workshops into teaching plans, so as to let resources grow continuously and trigger more possibilities when applied repeatedly.