Headmaster Tseng Li-hua and Her Beautiful School- by Liu Tz-Ming Open space greening is a contradiction manifesting people's desire to be close to nature but on the other hand, their behavior to separate themselves from it at the same time. Space designers for a long time alienate nature and as a result their works, although beautiful, are often human-centered and unnatural. Such constructions do not serve natural inhabitants or people in terms of environmental education. If a linkage between human and nature is lacking, and if there is still no interaction, the creation of open green space will lose its meaning. Therefore, it is important to incorporate the concept of biological and environmental education in the work of greening. To be able to add esthetic sensibilities on top of it, is something unusual. This article features Ms. Tseng Li-hua, former headmaster of Fu-An Elementary School in Mei-Nong Township, Kaohsiung County, who shares with us from her 10-year-experience how to bring nature in the school campus and how she made a green school a reality.
Each class in Fu-An Elementary School claims a brick of their own, a practice that keeps Mei Nong's brick making culture alive among young students.
"This is a ten-year process of learning and growing, instead of something that can be acquired overnight."
Ms. Tseng is sensible of artistic subjects due to her background of fine art. Although she received training of layout & graphic instead of three dimensional design, the interest to create green space took root when she was running a farm. She deeply appreciated beauty of nature from the work of gardening and wished to realize it in the school campus. In the beginning she simply wanted to bring the beauty of nature to the school and did not think of environmental education until one day she attended a seminar on this very subject. "Participating in that seminar on environmental education was a milestone for me. It provoked a lot of thinking and led me into doing something which is long-term and systematic..."
As a matter of fact, Ms Tseng had acquired knowledge on ecology and environment, but did not utilize it in the building of a green school. After the seminar she developed in-depth understanding about real-life experience and ideas, and with her early-day aesthetic training, she was committed to building a school featuring beauty of nature. This commitment is the mainstay to persist her work in the Fu-An Elementary School.
Innovative lunch train delivering food from kitchen to classrooms as well as traffic safety messages.
How did Ms. Tseng materialize beauty of nature in her school? By the time she took the position in Fu-An, the school had already been cultivated with significant Hakka tradition and spirits with the efforts of her predecessors. Tobacco houses, mountains in the distance and surrounding water make this place rich in both humanitarian and natural senses. When Ms. Tseng started in Fu-An, she wanted to maintain the tradition and on the other hand hoped to come up with something new, which led to an implementation of green school project by conducting space experiments to try to create a touch of nature in the school. The ecological pond is a good example. This place was originally a low-lying ground with water in it. Instead of enclosing water by concrete structure, Ms. Tseng discussed with other teachers and decided to make a pond from the geographical setting with natural background of tobacco houses in the vicinity and mountains in the distance. To create such a space that allowed young students access to water, land and nature, Ms. Tseng visited former head of PTA in her husband's school, who had construction business, and asked earth from him. Two hundred trucks loaded with earth were donated and a shovel was summoned to do the filling. Surrounding area was made uneven to imitate natural landform. Driver of the truck kindly placed big stones that he kindly offered by the pond to arrange the pond scene. According to characteristics of each stone, Ms. Tseng had them scattered around the pond and added varieties. After completion, the pond became one of students' favorite spots after class. Attraction of nature is the stimulus of interaction between man and environment, which is exactly the purpose of creating green space. Besides the ecological pond, Ms. Tseng had her way of growing trees in the school. She stayed away from artificial beautification and chose plants of educational, ecological and practical values so that plantation was not merely scene organization but a practice of humanitarian and environmental education. By doing this, Ms. Tseng realized her dream to create a sense of nature in her school, the kind of beauty full of life.
Ecological Pond in the Fu-An Ele-mentary School features natural beauty of mountains, tobacco houses and a campus without walls - a peaceful landscape of Mei-Nong.
Creating green space is realization of one's belief. In other words, it is important for the initiator to seek consensus and support from other space users. Otherwise the space would not serve its purpose. Although it was the idea of Ms. Tseng's, she didn't want it to be done by order. Rather, she wanted it achieved with collective effort. So the project kicked off with only those that shared her ideas. With successful outcomes such as lunch delivery train, campus ecological path and photography, and training of guide being presented in the school curriculum seminar, the faculty began to appreciate the efforts and tried to utilize green resources in the school in their teaching, eventually making it a standard model. The story and achievement of Ms. Tseng's school is a good reference for all readers.
From the story of Ms. Tseng's school, we learn that a real-life experience of nature is a vital point to truly understand nature. With this in mind our efforts to create green space will remain on the right track and we will be able to enrich the beauty of nature by combining aesthetics and education. It is not until the users appreciate and reach out to it that the space serves its maximum educational function. After all, existence of green space in the school is to bridge humans and nature, not to highlight either party.