Allearn Education: An Arts Journey in China for Arts Teachers of Melbourne’s Primary and Secondary Schools

In the Invigorating September of 2018, a team of arts teachers from primary and secondary schools in Melbourne, Australia, was invited to visit China for two-day arts studies by the Asian Education Foundation (AEF) and the Confucius Institute of the University of Melbourne.

Huawen Xu, a Chinese Calligraphy and the Chinese Painting Instructor in Confucius Institute of Melbourne University, led the team of 11 members to visit Hangzhou—a city with long history. As a business partner of the AEF and the Confucius Institute of Melbourne University in China, Allearn Education (Hangzhou Branch) accompanied the Australian teachers to experience the inheritance of Chinese traditional culture and to understand how is combined with modern art in the education field.

On September 28, the team arrived at the West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou to visit the Seal Engravers’ Society of Xiling. The Seal Engravers’ Society of Xiling was founded in 1904 and has an extremely rich collection of around 6,000 ancient paintings and seal-cutting works. It is one of the oldest and most influential Art associations in China and known as "the best art association around the world". It has been Inscribed in 2009 on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity for its Art of Chinese Seal Engraving.

Many of the arts teachers in the Australian team have been met with the traditional Chinese seal engraving art at the first time and been stunningly impressive. They also have been impressed by the inside exquisite and elegant landscape which combined the artificial and natural designs. All the teachers expected more study opportunities for western arts teachers to learn and understand the traditional Chinese arts in the future.

 

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Meanwhile, the team visited Huang Binhong Art Gallery which is located inside Zhejiang Museum. This Art Gallery has a large collection of paintings from famous Chinese literati painter and art historian Huang Binhong and is another cultural and artistic landmark in Hangzhou. Every painting in the gallery impressed the Australian arts educators deeply.

The team also visited the Fine Arts School of Hangzhou Normal University and attended a class from Department of Arts Education which focused on learning of professional watercolour painting. The Australian educators have observed the lecturer and students how to practice on teaching and learning of watercolour painting under different cultural circumstances.

 

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After class, Professor Hu Jun, Director of the Fine Arts School, held a seminar with the Australian team and some other Chinese arts scholars to discuss the current status and development of arts education in both sides.

Samantha Horstman, the Coordinator of the Art and Technology Section at Collinwood College in Melbourne, gave a detailed introduction to the teaching philosophy and curriculum features of Australian arts education. The main teaching methodology of Australian arts education is Inquiry-based Learning. This method encourages students to subjectively explore and have deep researches on what they are going to learn, and to help students acquire knowledge through critical thinking and information collecting.

Professor Hu also offered a detailed introduction of the setting of current curriculum in arts education field of Hangzhou Normal University to share the opinions about the difference between two sides’ arts education in primary and secondary schools.

Both Australian and Chinese arts educators highly appreciated the bridging function of Allearn Education and expected more collaborative opportunities in the future. The Australian team made a special video to commemorate the wonderful journey of communication in arts education as well.

Allearn Education has the desire of promoting deep understanding of the arts education under different cultures and of helping more front-line educators to involve in cross-cultural communications and discussions about arts education.

 

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