“Raise,” we did; “stand [formally]”; we did, “bow,” I tilted my head only by a little bit. Distorted and messy memories, I manage to organize my ideas despite the horrible past hunting me. Talents would follow me anywhere now, whenever society requires. Out of the window, music roared from the loud banging of drums. People dressed in tuxedos, playing songs either together or solo.
Outside, my nose sucks in the vibration, the banging of drums, and the playing of music. Ears wide, I listened to their talents. Although I am not able to perform like them, sooner or later I will. “Raise, stand, bow” is the daily routine in Traditional Taiwanese schools like mine; the staffs fully understand that every choice a student makes leave a mark which affects important aspects in our lives. As a result teachers care more about students’ grades than students’ talents.
I felt sick, after finishing repetitive questions; put down my pencil and started to think. “How do people survive with an education like ours?” I asked one arrogant teacher once, and he replied, “You are not suppose to ask any question, but since your question is meaningful and well stated, I suppose I should gave an answer: Ones with higher grades get high salary jobs that are easy and the income keeps coming silently.” He definitely did not answer my question. It seemed to me that extensive homework and the strict approach was more important than learning. I was wrong. When I transferred to American School in Taichung (AST), the first glance at AST was a small unnoticeable rock on the side of a road.
The campus, encompassed by mountains and forests vibrant with different reds, greens and browns, was 1/27 area of my last school, maybe smaller. The first day at AST, students with different colored clothing, not uniforms, sat in the front steps. “Attention!” our principle said when everyone was busy doing their own work “This is an American School; we believe talents weigh more than student’s grades; believe students could do better than the teacher; we believe everyone is someone’s teacher. That is what school is about, to learn, teach, and question each other.” I finally got into a school that believes in what I believe. One of my first experiences with the world class artist was my first high school field trip to Taipei National Art Museum.
We saw some fantastic art drawings and paintings from Vincent Van Gogh. Although the first few paintings he painted had no emphasis on color, texture, and line in his paintings; his later paintings had hard strokes, strong color, and a new idea of spiral. I could be inspired by little things such as Vincent Van Gogh’s unlimited imagination generated from a Japanese painting. I asked more questions from then on. I let the roots of information flow though me from surrounding forests and historic houses. The first humans alive did not have teachers; they were as wild as animals; they have to learn everything from nature; life experience.
They depended on talents to survive. Getting sustainable grades in school is not enough to survive in society. I join science club and technology club on campus. Outside of school, I took piano lessons for the simple love of learning and for the enjoyment of music. It is part of my social life.