Students at CTBC International Academy are spoiled for choice with their class schedules. Not only are there the usual array of English, Chinese, math, and science classes, but there are history, geography, sports, and design as well. The design class is a fairly unique offering within the educational system of Taiwan. Teaching and learning in this country have for quite some time focused on rote memorization of material delivered by the teacher and the use of books and paper homework and tests. Creativity has not had much of a place within this system.
Students at CIA have the opportunity to use the left side of their brains. They, with the guidance of the design teacher Odelia, have completed many creative projects in the past year including painting, drawing, woodworking and acting to name a few. Their latest efforts have produced some small, clay pots and sculptures. There are various animals as well as small containers that might be suitable for candies or knickknacks. Many of them have been made to be drinking vessels. They are available for student or faculty use from which to drink tea or other beverages. Students wanting to have a picnic can use them, wash them, and return them for display or use by others. The objects were shaped from regular artistic clay. The inside of the drinking vessels then received a glossy coat of paint safe to drink from.
The design theme is evident throughout the campus and offices at CIA. In the offices, wood has been used to dramatic effect to create a warm atmosphere as well as unique showpieces for visiting schools. Odelia and an ever-present crew of woodworkers have designed and produced wooden chairs, window ledges, hangout areas, terraces, and even a treehouse where students, faculty, and guest can sit and enjoy the tranquility in a shaded area. It’s a welcome change from the concrete jungles that most cities are and very different from most or all other schools in the country. All tours of the campus include a look at the wooden design elements and visitors smile and regard the touches with pleasure.
Hopefully, as a result of exposure to design using a variety of materials and methods, some of the CIA students will pursue more creative careers that they feel passionate about. Many students with very imaginative ideas are told that these pursuits are not practical and cannot be used to make money, and thus end up in careers that may pay the bills but are not in line with their talents and wishes.