Youth forum on needs-based education: Required courses are not “one-size-fits-all”
There is no arts and culture education service that does not take demand into consideration. However, it is necessary for stakeholders to rethink whether they can confidently say that demand truly lies at the core of arts and culture education. Arte365 does not simply listen to the voices of its "consumers" and reflect their concerns in the services it provides; rather, it takes a close look at its "end users" as one of the essential components to the qualitative development of arts and culture education. In order to operate as a user-based service, Arte365 not only offers platforms for experts to hold discussions, but also provides spaces where youth who have participated in relevant education programs to share their experiences and ideas. In this article, we will explore what it means when arts and culture education aims for "learning as an extension of everyday life" and "becoming the agent of learning." At Icheon Yangjeong Girls' High School, an intramural school program called "Upstanding Rapper" was held, based on the popular TV program "High School Rapper." In most instances, rap involves insulting one's opponent in a relay of "dis battles." However, as part of this meaningful program, students wrote hopeful lyrics to each other. Student A shared her experiences with this program, saying that she had a lot of fun even though it was her first time rapping. She added that she is just an average student who does not particularly enjoy writing. Her rap, titled "Go 3" was about her life as a high school senior and she performed it at a school festival, even winning an award for her performance. For Student A, prior to this program, she considered her hobbies simply playing with her phone or reading web comics; now, however, when asked about her hobbies, she confidently answers "composing rap lyrics." She has expressed to her friends on several occasions how thrilled she is to have found a hobby that she can continue to enjoy throughout the rest of her life. Student A even went on to write a rap about her experience studying for and taking the college entrance exam and proceeded to perform it at graduation. Arts and culture education is not meant to be an option only for students who show an aptitude for the field, nor is it simply an outlet through which students can take a break while studying or something done in college when students finally find the time. KACES was curious to see how students felt about these statements and whether or not they agreed. To that end, at 2PM on August 25th, we met with three students, Ga Ra-hyeon (third-year at Gyeseong High School), Kim Si-eun (second-year at Bosung Girls' High School), and Cho Eun-seo (third-year at Icheon Yangjeong Girls' High School), who had long-been interested in arts and culture education and actively participated in relevant programs, at a cafe near Hapjeong Station to listen to their personal experiences.
△Interviewee(Ga Ra-hyeon, Kim Si-eun, Cho Eun-seo)
Please share any arts and culture-related activities that you have taken part in. Cho Eun-seo : I participated in the "Arts School at School" during my first and second years of high school. This program involved inviting local artists to our school, where they would provide us with lessons on drawing, jazz, video production, and calligraphy. Kim Si-eun : As part of the "Blooming Creativity Factory" (Youth Arts and Culture Research Center), we made 15-minute documentaries on ourselves. After participating in a festival at Haebangchon, I had the opportunity to join a corner on Yongsan FM Radio called "Sharing Stories about the World," where I discussed books that I had read. Ga Ra-hyeon : I am particularly interested in theater and music, so I joined "Our Trance Dance" (The New World Theatre) as part of theKumdarak Saturday Cultural School. Last year we performed "Blue World" and this year we are preparing a street theater performance titled <Trance Dance>.
Where do you usually get information about arts and culture education? Kim: I found out about the "Blooming Creativity Factory" after seeing a poster on our school's bulletin board. Cho: For me, students who had previously participated in these programs shared their experiences with the other students. If 15 students who share the same interests gather together, they can create their own school activity group. Ga: In some cases, friends who had already participated in these programs would recommend them to me. Other times, I would find information on social media sites just by chance and ended up applying. What do you consider when selecting a program? Cho: As a high school student, it is hard to find the time or opportunity to do anything outside of studying. I participated in these programs because I figured I would not get the chance again if I passed up this opportunity. Arts and culture programs are a lot different from and more interesting than those of other fields. They not only stimulate one's emotions, but also engage all five senses. There is no stress even if you cannot draw or sing very well. Kim: I look through the program contents. There is no way of knowing for sure unless you experience it first-hand. For the most part, if it looks interesting, I am the type to try it out at least once, for this is the only way to learn more about myself and what I prefer. One time, after attending a special lecture given by poet and alumna from our school An Mi-ok, I fell in love with poetry. I became interested in literature, so I joined an intramural book club, which helped me foster my dream of becoming a writer. Ga: I tend to choose the school programs that I want to take. For me, it is important that these programs are good opportunities to make new friends and offer content that I enjoy. As for programs outside of school, considering that there are participants from all age groups, I prefer joining programs with my peers. Also, it is important that the programs are offered nearby and that my hours spent there are counted as official volunteer work (laughs).
Which of the program(s) you have participated in is/are the most memorable? Cho: Once during vacation, I visited and indirectly experienced the day of a color therapist. This experience taught me that art has the power to change the world and inspired me to become a policy designer. In class I noticed that many students would hurt themselves opening the sliding door, so I outlined the motion of the door when it opens and draw a rainbow along it. Throughout this process, I became interested in UX design, whose goal is to make things more user friendly. Kim: During my first year of high school, I took a class on art research at Blooming Creativity Factory. One of the activities involved looking at a single object and drawing one's unique perception of it. We were to feel the object without looking and then draw what we thought it was; I was certain the item was a cup, but surprisingly it turned out to be a tea kettle.. People of all ages, from middle school students to women in their 40s, attended this class, making it all the more interesting to see how people from different generations perceived their surroundings. When asked to draw the kettle from our imagination, there were a number of different results, with some thinking it was made out of plastic, while others thought it was glass or ceramic. What would you say is different about arts and culture education from other types of education? Cho: Whereas the social sciences take a deep, linear look at a certain issue, arts and culture education takes a look at the same issue from a multilateral perspective. After all if you look at something too closely, it is hard to see it in its entirety. Arts and culture aims to identify the true character of something, all while promoting free and flexible thought processes. Kim: Although things seem to be changing slowly, most classes in school are one-way lectures, with teachers talking to students for most of the time. Arts and culture education is unique in that there are interactions between me and the material presented. It is not simply a field where one can passively absorb information; rather, it requires one to consider and reconsider while slowly accumulating and presenting my ideas as my own. Ga: Arts and culture education is different from other subjects because there is no right answer; as long as you use your imagination, anything can be "right." Everyone's thoughts can become the answer. As opposed to language arts, English, and math, subjects such as singing, acting, and playing an instrument are not required; those who are interested are free to take the classes they want.
What is arts and culture to you? Why is arts and culture important in our lives? Ga: Arts and culture is not something that we necessarily need, yet it has already found a place for itself in different aspects of our lives. It is something naturally occurring, like walking by an orchestra performance while passing by the subway station. Cho: Many students believe that arts and culture is something that can only be enjoyed by either people who are already talented in the field or people who have a lot free time. However, it is important to remember that arts and culture is not an academic field of study. Although it is possible to say that you do not need to study science because you are a literature major, arts and culture is not something that you can simply choose to live without. It is through arts and culture that we expand our minds and the way we think, as well as the perspective with which we see the world. It is not just a temporary escape from studying; rather, it is something whose value is in the very act of appreciating and becoming involved in it. Kim: Although there would be no problems if one were to choose not to partake in arts and culture, there is no doubt that how you do choose to partake in it will have an impact on your life. Once I participated in a workshop at a bookstore near my house and discussed books with working professionals there. This is just one example of how arts and culture breaks barriers between people of different ages and backgrounds and brings people together. Is there anything that you think KACES and other youth arts and culture education services and institutes need to do? Ga: It would be nice if there was an "end product" that could represent the sense of accomplishment we feel when the program is finished. For example, with the Kumdarak Saturday Cultural School, which I am now participating in for the second year, I am motivated by the end-goal of the performance we put on once the program is completed. Kim: There are many instances when individuals are interested but do not know how to participate in such programs. Such programs need to be promoted using social media. I think that meetings like today's are of great importance, for they allow individuals with similar interests to gather and share their ideas. In a sense, I think these meetings are an extension of arts and culture education. Cho: Students really enjoy participating in society, mainly because they have a strong need to share things with others and get some sort of feedback. Like Ra-hyun said, having an "end-product" as not just a part of my own memory, but also left behind in something that I can share with others. Cho also added that, from experience, students preferred participating in a more official event at Icheon City Hall and watching videos of their own productions as opposed to holding the event in a more comfortable, everyday setting and providing snacks. She participated in an intramural jazz school program and held a guerrilla performance for expecting mothers at a nearby gynecology clinic. Cho continued, saying that she and the other participants really wanted to put on a performance but hesitated, wondering whether they could actually pull it off successfully. She mentioned that those creating arts and culture programs should coordinate efforts until the "end product" is completed and shared with others. All three students agreed that it would be nice if it there were easier and more diverse ways to access arts and culture education information. Furthermore, they expressed their desire for solid infrastructure that would support students who are interested in voluntarily participating in multiple arts and culture programs, as opposed to just experiencing one and calling it quits. It is difficult to see the impact of arts and culture education in the short term. Culture is all around us, found in every aspect of our lives, big or small, even when we are unaware of its presence. On that note, providing various channels through which youth can access arts and culture education is essential. Emotional intelligence, creativity, and imagination are not things that are made; rather, they are things that need to be nurtured. By ensuring that children do not lose touch with their emotions and imagination, we are guaranteeing them lives with endless possibilities.
*Interviewer: Choi, Hwa Jin Choi is a former journalist and writer for The Hankyoreh's education section, "Let’s Learn Together." She loves children and has a deep-found interest in education. She also wrote a book on reading culture at home, titled The House that Reads. She currently works as an education coordinator.
The generation of leisure: Social leisure as the key to work-life balance
On September 14th, on the green grass of Gwangmyeong Stadium, preparations were underway for the 2018 Gwangmyeong Lifestyle Culture Festival with the Cultural Center. A woodworking shop was set up as the base camp for the festival, and the sound of cutting wood to build various structures and booths filled the air. Amid such preparations, I had the opportunity to meet art director of Buk-gu Cultural Center, Jung Min-ryong. I have known him for the past 15 years, and during that time Director Jung has dedicated his efforts to observing people and life under the backdrop of neighborhoods, backstreets, and everyday life to develop and offer various projects through the cultural center. Of those many projects, the most memorable one was the “Backstreet Story Project” held in 2004, which collected and shared videos, images, maps, and activities that told the stories of those living in small neighborhoods that were scheduled to go redevelopment. This project recorded the lives of these local residents through videos depicting the lives of single, elderly members of the community, town maps drawn by the local children, images depicting other town members’ perspective of living in these areas, and activities for families to enjoy together. Director Jung’s efforts illustrate his passion for closely observing neighborhoods and those living in the backstreets and capturing snapshots of their culture and, thus, showing that daily life in itself can be culture. . Upon meeting him, I took the opportunity to ask him what he thought leisure meant in today’s society, which so eagerly seeks work-life balance
△Minryong Jung(Art director of Buk-gu Cultural Center)
Today’s society is one that seeks happiness from the small things in life, work-life balance, and a life where individuals have time to spend for themselves in the evening. There have been constant research projects conducted on leisure, and 2016 saw the enactment of the Framework Act on the Activation of Leisure of Citizens, following Framework on the Promotion Activation of Leisure of Citizens this June. Indeed, we have reached a time when even the government has begun taking necessary steps to support the free time of individuals through policies.
Many individuals today are seeking for balance between work and leisure, but in order to do so, it is necessary to rethink what leisure really means. Simple understanding of leisure as one’s personal, free time can help in separating it from the time one spends working. However, in terms of policy, leisure and work are separated from the more objective perspective of length of time. That is, the number of hours that one works and receives pay for that work is considered to be the line between work and leisure. What must be taken into consideration, though, is that leisure means something different for everyone. Take, for example, those who are involved in farm work; what does leisure mean to them? As such an example illustrates, the time one “gets off work” in the standard 9-5 work environment and using such a schedule as a division between work and leisure does not apply to all occupations and all lifestyles. For some people, the two concepts of work and leisure are less clearly defined, almost blending together throughout their everyday lives.
Despite that the fact that everyday culture is an important part of the broader realm of culture, the majority of the focus in this field is placed are arts and culture. Unfortunately, the same limited perspective is often applied to the concept of leisure as well.
Everyday culture, as it is known in today’s society, refers to the partaking in artistic activities during one’s free time; it is often defined this way because it is the easiest way for most people to understand the concept. In other words, everyday culture is nothing more than spending one’s free time freely to engage in one’s interests and hobbies, and this, in turn, has come to be known as enjoying leisure. Based on this definition, the government took steps to support individuals who do not have such free time and, thus, cannot enjoy their own leisure activities. However, this concept is undoubtedly limited in its scope and applications, for it suggests that leisure is something that individuals engage in aimlessly as a means of using up time during which they are not working. On the other hand, leisure can also be productive, something that many individuals are unaware of unless they have the opportunity to visit cultural centers and participate in the programs they offer.
△Minryong Jung(Art director of Buk-gu Cultural Center)
I agree with the idea that leisure is not simply limited to engaging in hobbies and activities of interest during one’s free time. I am aware that this is the reason behind the newly proposed concept of “social leisure.” Is there a particular need to use this expression?
People used to refer to this time as “personal leisure,” but I proposed the expression of “social leisure” because it sounds better (laughs). Social leisure is a broader term, referring to how leisure is not dedicated to one’s hobbies alone, but that it should become a part of one’s everyday life and system of values. At Buk-gu Cultural Center, there is a group called “Strollers” for those who enjoy taking walks outside. When considering how we could reach out to individuals who enjoy walking, we thought of creating guide material or maps of walking trails, which could also help get others interested in this activity. This is an example of social leisure. When you think about it, walking is something that one can technically enjoy on his or her own. However, society enjoys sharing the things that they enjoy with others and meeting others who share that same interest. This is, after all, how groups like the “Strollers” are formed. These individuals first met thanks to a common hobby, but they proceeded to go beyond that by using this activity to explore different possibilities to play an important role as members of society. Social leisure goes beyond the common concept of “enjoying one’s free time” by creating groups or group mentalities that try to have a positive influence on communities in any way possible.
Is this understanding of social leisure the basis of relevant policies that attempt to create an environment conducive to such group activities?
The very foundation of social leisure is to create an environment where individuals can enjoy their free time at deeper levels than usual. Having added social values makes such forms of leisure all the more valuable. Take, for example, taking a trip somewhere. Everyone has the option of using their own money to travel. If the government or another agency were to become involved, it is not their place to tell individuals whether or not they can travel; however, it can publish books by collecting information on interesting places to go or things worth experiencing and also encourage others to partake in a trip that is meaningful to both the society and for them. This is an example of social leisure, where the goal is to create resources to add value to the activities that individuals choose to engage in during their free time.
You already mentioned the “Strollers” group for those who enjoy walking. What other groups are there?
Although leisure can be simply thought of as the time during which one can enjoy his or her hobbies, the spectrum of such activities is much broader and diverse. At Buk-gu Cultural Center, we work to provide various activities that fit with the concept of social leisure and the uniqueness of the Cultural Center. Just to list a few, we have groups for: enjoying and reciting poetry (“Walking Poetry”); running a business in small towns (“Han Pyeong Marketplace”) or specialty stores that do not sell much “Munsan Shop”; experiencing the lifestyles and living habits of others 《Our Home Exhibition》; enjoying music with a limited number of people in a limited space (“I’m a DJ, too”); house-building activities for children “Children’s Carpentry Festival”; elderly women who meet to enjoy the nuances of the Jeollado dialect “Jeollado Club”; middle-aged women who have met for the past 20 years to read, study, and discuss famous texts including Chinese classics “Hwamok Village School”; and other meaningful groups that focus on enjoying leisure, such as groups where members play the piano and enjoy music together by lending the Cultural Center as a space to use free of charge at night (“Three-Generation Chorus’ ‘Song Club’ ‘Munsan Village Family Chorus”).
Clearly, the Cultural Center has a close relationship with leisure. Could you please explain what type of place it is and how it is operated in more detail?
Buk-gu Cultural Center is unique in that it is operated in patterns that differ greatly from that of other cultural facilities. It is our goal to create our own style, which we believe helps us remain true to our original identity. By doing so, we also maintain our core values while also adapting to changes in society as we gain experience. We attempt to share these experiences and methods with other, similar facilities, but I am not certain as to whether such efforts are being conducted successfully.
△Gwangmyeong Lifestyle Culture and Arts Festival
The theme of the Gwangmyeong Lifestyle Culture Festival with the Cultural Center to be held on September 15th is “lifestyle.” I am aware that the festival will showcase various lifestyles found across the country. Could you share more details on this concept?
The title of the festival is “My Daily Life, My Daily Routine: 9 to 5, 5 to 9.” As mentioned before, many people consider leisure to begin upon getting off work, but without such divisions, there is a fine line between one’s daily “life” and one’s daily “routine.” This festival aims to show the differences between these two concepts. Although it will be difficult to explain and illustrate these ideas in detail, it is the goal of this festival to provide a space where individuals can become more aware of how they are living their own lives by observing how others live their lives. By using the images presented as a means of reflecting over their daily lives and daily routines, we hope this event will grant insight into what goes on in people’s lives on a daily basis. As part of the “Lifestyle Shop” exhibition, there is a booth called “Mi-ja’s Shop.” Here, a woman in her 30s named Mi-ja comes not to sell items, but her lifestyle: the things she enjoys, her hobbies, her work, and the other components of her dreams and future life. Although this s model for the exhibition does not show all of the things that one considers his or her own, it projects the image of the personal in everyday life to others. In other words, the characters shown in this exhibition are not illustrating the lives of any given person, per se, but rather broaden the horizons of audience members by showing them that such lifestyle patterns exist. This is the very definition of lifestyle; visiting Gil-sun’s shop gives you the opportunity to experience how elderly individuals might identify themselves and how that affects their style of living. There are various “houses” demonstrating different lifestyles in this single space, with the common goal of raising awareness that everyday culture is expressed through our lifestyles. The goal of this exhibition is to show the connection between lifestyles and personal identity, but I am not sure if audiences will get it (laughs).
Most events that have words like “everyday culture” in their titles are often comprised of performances, exhibitions, and hands-on activities. What about the Gwangmyeong Lifestyle Culture Festival with the Cultural Center?
Festivals are not reflections of everyday life, so it is not exactly easy to tell stories about everyday life through performances, exhibitions, and hands-on activities, as you normally would see at such festivals. In order to approach this theme, we take everyday activities, such as listening to music, which one would normally do at home, and create a space where participants can enjoy such activities with others who also enjoy that same activity. That is what makes this event so interesting. In preparing for this event, we decided to focus on people’s actions and interests and develop the festival accordingly to accommodate them.
When reviewing the programs that you were directly involved in, there seem to be a lot that involve creating things by hand. I am aware that for this festival, all of the booths are being made by hand as well at woodworking stations. Is there any particular reason why you chose to proceed in this way?
To be honest, it’s because I lack any expertise when it comes to festivals (laughs). There are many people who are experts in planning and conducting festivals; however, in most cases, that means that they are confined to a certain method or approach. As I mentioned before, festivals themselves are not everyday activities, yet they are meant to reflect our everyday interests. Life itself is not meant to be confined to a certain model, and, by the same token, no single model can accommodate the lives of two different individuals. In that sense, I wanted to make a festival based on the ordinary and images one would see on a daily basis. That is why we have prepared chairs and sofas, things that someone would see in their own homes placed out here in the stadium. Then again, when you think about it, it is not everyday that a stadium feels like home; I believe it is this juxtaposition of the ordinary and extraordinary that will help us reach our audiences and get our message across. You might see a woodworking shop set up in the middle of a stadium during your daily life, but seeing it here creates a new experience. It is my hope that, by taking this approach, we can create a setting filled with aspects of our daily lives and allow audiences to take a good, close look at them.
In other words, this festival aims to take the ordinary and mix it with the extraordinary in order to further emphasize the ordinary aspects of our daily lives. Could you please explain what the Buk-gu Cultural Center’s main role is in this festival?
To put it simple, the Buk-gu Cultural Center is constantly striving to become a public center for everyone. Just as one’s home is his or her private comfort space, it is our goal to offer our center as a home where everyone can find that same level of comfort in the presence of neighbors. It is also a place where anyone can partake in leisure and turn it into a “third home,” after one’s own home and the workplace, for everyone. While one’s own home can serve as a setting for enjoying leisure in privacy, this “third home” adds a social component where individuals can find meaning in engaging in such activities with others.
Is that why the cultural center is referred to as the “neighborhood cultural facility?”
Exactly. “Neighborhood” is just another word for accessibility in this case, not just in the physical sense, but also in the psychological and spatial sense, as well as in terms of building relationships. Although “neighbor” refers to something that is nearby, one could take that a step further and say that it refers to something that is approachable and close to one in an emotional sense. It is something without formalities, open to anyone who desires to become a part of it. Furthermore, it is not a space whose functions are set in stone; cultural centers are prepared to adapt to the needs of the people, taking into account the characteristics of each situation and each given period of time. This is why I chose to call Buk-gu Cultural Center a “neighborhood cultural facility.” The threshold for entering our center is always low, and one does not need a special reason to stop by, for we do not serve a single purpose.
The cultural center appears to be an optimal space to do anything or nothing at all. Lastly, Director, what is leisure to you?
For me, leisure is gathering with good people in the neighborhood to share a drink and stories (laughs).
Jung Min-ryong _ Director,Gwangju Buk-gu Cultural Center Jung Min-ryong was born in Wanju, located in Jeonnam Province. He majored in agricultural studies and filmed documentaries during his undergraduate years. Director Jung proceeded to study visual anthropology in graduate school. In 2000, he began working at the Buk-gu Cultural Center, which was founded in 1997, and has worked there since then, managing operations for arts and culture education and citizens’ cultural activities. He is interested in coordinating efforts for neighborhood cultural activities and operates programs such as the handicraft program “Thinking Hands” and the labor-focused arts education program “School on Wheels”. Director Jung was also in charge of “Woorak-Burak, Children’s City Playground in Gwangju” in 2015, is the arts director for the 2018 Gwangmyeong Lifestyle Culture and Arts Festival, and in charge of the childrens’ carpenter festival “Art Safehouse.” He coordinated various festivals and arts events and provides consultation services and lectures on numerous topics, including regional and everyday culture.
Wu Ji-yeon (Director, Korean Cultural House Association) Having worked closely with cultural houses and other platforms for cultural experiences in everyday life, especially with those living in small neighborhoods, Woo Ji-yeon has developed a new understanding of such spaces as channels through which she can view the world from a perspective where art meets everyday life. While working at the Korean Cultural House Association, she has become interested in engaging in culture and also learning about the culture of life. To that end, Woo works closely with cultural houses to leverage their position as the link between cultural services and local communities. She serves as the consultant for the Rainbow Bridge project, which aims to expand cultural diversity, as well as a consultant for Lifestyle Culture Center and a committee member for organizing artist overseas programs.
*Interviewer : Jiyoen Woo(Director of Korean Cultural House Association)
*Interviewee : Minryong Jung(Art director of Buk-gu Cultural Center)