Chia-Yu is an experienced curriculum developer and teacher of Creative Drama for children and adults. He created and lectured at the Speech & Drama Program for kindergarten, primary and secondary school children at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA),Singapore, where he served as Lecturer. He was also the chief designer of the Magical City Holiday Camp, a multi-performance arts camp for children, co-presented by City Radio FM95.8 and NAFA. In addition, Chia-Yu has developed curriculum for major institutions, including Communication Arts training for the staff of international hotel chains, Speech & Drama for the Young People's Performing Arts Ensemble and MediaCorp, and Cultural Intelligence for the Nanyang Business School MBA program.
Besides curriculum design and teaching, Chia-Yu has also performed in productions in and beyond Singapore, including Good Woman of Szechuan (UCCS TheatreWorks, USA), Sunset Rise (Singapore Arts Festival 1999 & 3rd Chinese Drama Festival in Taipei), Love A La Zen (The Theatre Practice, Singapore), and so forth. As former Resident Artist at The Theatre Practice, Chia-Yu produced and directed numerous children's plays as part of the National Arts Council's Arts Education Program, including Calling the East Wind and 12 Imperial Edicts. Chia-Yu has been trained by international educators and artists, from Bruce Keller (Writing for Children), Dr. Zhang Shizong (Open Education),Debbi Fintak (Interacting with Shakespeare), Dr. Stan Lai (Creativity), to Kuo Pao Kun (Directing Workshop).
Very soon, following 16 hours of creative drama, your children will be appearing on stage to share their performance (approximately 6 to 8 minutes) with you. You may feel puzzled: How can my child appear on stage after only a few hours of training? Conversely, you might wonder: Why has it taken so long for my child to appear on stage? Whether you are among the former or latter, I hope I can make a brief introduction to the educational significance of creative drama through this letter.
(1) Using rehearsals to enhance students’ independent thinking.
Characteristics of independent thinking include: (a) An ability to rethink problems, that is, instead of taking problems at face value, to question problems and ask if they were the right place to begin with; (b) Metacognition, the ability to think about how one thinks and then to modify one’s mode of thought and practices. Drama rehearsals provide a non-judgemental, egalitarian space where students can trust and enter into independent thinking in open and carefree abandon. In addition, they may share their thoughts with others, unleash their creativity, offer new ideas, and implement them.
(2) Performance provides an open-minded, objective environment for assessment.
An ideal learning environment, in addition to centering on learners, knowledge, and community, should also center on assessment. Here, assessment refers to a qualitative assessment, and not assessment in the conventional sense of numerical grades. When children stand on stage, their strengths and weaknesses will inevitably be exposed to full view. Simultaneously, the children’s content of teaching in school and the manner of education at home will also be projected on stage. Yet, it is through this mirror imaging that school, parents, and students can enter into silent reflection. Through which, we learn more and deeply about one another.
As the saying goes, one minute on stage takes ten years of hard work off-stage. A mere 16 hours of training will not transform anybody into a superstar. However, with the educational goals of Wujiang Taihu International School in mind, 16 hours of creative drama aims to prepare a new platform for a child’s growth in body, mind, and spirit. So long as the three parties – students, teachers, and parents – can respect one another, interact sincerely, I believe we will improve together and see a better tomorrow to come.