Immersed in Creativity

Project Representative
Lori Hsu
Creation Date: 2004
Headquarters: Taiwan, China
Geographical Reach: Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia
Nature and number of beneficiaries: To date there have been 11,058 teachers and 32,097 students from 780 schools around Taiwan and at 3 Taiwanese schools abroad trained in the program which has been host to a total of 2,671,896 visitors.
Contact

Immersed in Creativity

About the Project

With the goal of providing opportunities to access cultural resources and helping students to express themselves, the project organizes cultural resources into themes using replicas to create educational exhibitions suitable for primary and secondary school students at schools of every size in communities of every socioeconomic category.  These exhibitions are displayed in urban schools, schools in remote villages and on outlying islands as well as those abroad. By providing students with access to aspects of culture such as aesthetics and lifestyle, the Foundation trains students as exhibit interpreters, thus greatly enhancing their critical thinking and oral expression skills. Moreover, the exhibitions are presented in a manner that encourages students to think outside the box and develop and share their ideas creatively.

Context and Issue

Equal access to cultural properties has been severely lacking for school students in Taiwan, for both  rural and urban students. Self-expression and personal engagement of culture is also generally under-emphasized. In Taiwan, the largest focus is on learning and memorizing material that will appear on standardized tests.   Since culture, creativity, and self-expression do not lend themselves to objective evaluation on standardized tests, such pursuits take a back seat to those more easily testable. As such, students finish school equipped with all the fuel of knowledge, but none of the tools of creativity and self-expression nor a varied and diverse exposure to culture, leaving them ill-prepared for our culturally complex world in which communication is critical.

Solution and Impact

Due to the limited access to cultural resources faced by today’s students, Immersed in Creativity’s exhibitions provide in-person access to culture at schools.  Further, students gain important skills through training as interpreters.  Additionally the emphasis on integrated curricula based on these exhibits gives students and teachers an opportunity to think outside the box and develop a practical and holistic world-view.
Immersed in Creativity brings museum-quality exhibitions directly to school campuses rather than bringing students to hard-to-reach museums.  Additionally, Immersed in Creativity’s exhibits feature art and artifacts faithfully reproduced to life size rather than miniaturized or simply online.  Immersed in Creativity’s exhibits are designed to give students an in-depth understanding of the exhibits’ specific themes. Most importantly, the program incorporates a competitive program in which students act as exhibit interpreters and guides providing a means of evaluating learning results and progress.
The exhibits feature not only replica art and artifacts but also incorporate hands-on activities and digital learning aids as well as informational materials aimed specifically at primary and secondary students.  The student interpreter program further represents an innovative blend of competition in the realms of leadership, oral expression, aesthetics appreciation, and critical thinking thus maximizing the impact of the exhibition on students’ practical skills.

The project exposes students to the important concept of problem-based learning and art and culture education.  It also allows teachers to develop curricula that they would not normally create when following the program required by the Ministry of Education.  This change in student experience from enriched teacher practice is proving to have lasting impacts on students, teachers and school environments.
By providing quality training for students and teachers, the project and its methods are transmitted to those implementing it and shared by our partners to others. Students who have participated in Immersed in Creativity have demonstrated substantial improvement in important real world skills and abilities of 4 key areas: communication, teamwork, aesthetics appreciation and interpersonal relationships as well as some improvements in interdisciplinary learning and creativity.
All participant schools submit a detailed report on the exhibition run at their schools following each exhibition.  These reports are made available to other participants in the program to perfect their implementations. The Foundation staff also actively visits schools during exhibition runs to ensure quality. Student performance is monitored and evaluated through a performance award competition. The Foundation has also recently completed a detailed impact study and produced questionnaires for participant teachers to report on teacher and student impacts.

Future Developments

It is planned to expand the number and type of Eastern and Western culture exhibitions to reflect a broader range of culture and encourage more forms of expression and creativity.  Problem- and project-based learning will also be integrated into exhibition updates. It is hoped to expand the reach of the exhibition into a global setting by including Taiwanese schools overseas and through a related program that is designed to share Chinese art and culture exhibitions with foreign schools in Taiwan and abroad. The project should also reach more elementary, junior high and senior high schools and the program will be available through an online learning environment in order to expand its reach.

The activities and materials available in some of the earliest exhibitions are being expanded to reflect this change in direction. This will be supported partly by working closer with the Ministry of Education and the National Palace Museum. Exhibitions are being digitalized and physical and virtual tools continue to be developed. The program is currently adapted for overseas uses.  The program is now in Taiwanese schools in Southeast Asia and will be expanding to mainland Chinese schools 2015. A spin-off program using Design-based learning is also being developed.

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