Creative Space Creative Mind
Happy Schooling—an Impossible Task?
The best gift adults can give to children is a happy childhood. Parents, teachers, government officials — anybody who relates to kids can do something to make that happen. Our children represent our hope for the future. Unfortunately, the current situation in Hong Kong tells a different story.
According to a survey conducted by Queen Mary Hospital from July to December 2018 of 2,038 parents and 18 representatives from primary schools, 35% of parents ranked their children 7 points or more out of 10 in suffering from pressure. More than half the parents reported that their children have to spend two hours or more to finish their homework every day, while 11.5% of the parents said their children need an additional two hours or more for studying.
No wonder, our children are so unhappy. Some even dislike going to school.
Released in April 2019, the survey result also suggested that Hong Kong children should have more leisure time to do what they want and have time to relax. They need the space to enjoy their autonomy and explore their creativity.
The inclusive playground in Tuen Mun Park under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (“LCSD”), open to public in December 2018, is such a space.
Design Thinking for Public Space Development
The park is the first of its kind to offer barrier-free inclusive play facilities incorporating two natural elements, water and sand, in its design for children of different ages and abilities. This is a pilot collaboration between the LCSD and the Architectural Services Department with design concepts from the winning entries of the Inclusive Play Space Design Ideas Competition, jointly organised in 2015 by the Playright Children’s Play Association, the Hong Kong Committee for the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects.
“During the design stage, we gathered different ideas and invited some of the kids from Junior Playground Commissioners Incubation Programme to co-design,” said Horman Chan, Chief Leisure Manager of LCSD.
“We also visited different schools, including Schools for Children with Special Education Needs to gather ideas from the students,” he said.
The project team adopted Design Thinking, a people-centric approach, to oversee the development of the new playground, taking into consideration various user needs. The water and sand themes, the swaying and rotating play installations, the tower for climbing, and special fixtures and movable parts with knocking and touching features can be found throughout the different play zones within the playground. The facilities are also suitable for children with disabilities and autism. Special metal slides for kids with cochlear implants, roller and embankment slides for children with other disabilities as well as walls, tunnels and barriers for children with autism are in place to allow children of different ages and abilities to enjoy the fun of playing while acquiring different skills.
Apart from facilities for children, there are also facilities for children playing together with their parents. For example, there are parent-child swings where the parents can ride face-to-face with their kids.
Bring Learning Back to Where It Belongs
“The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed — it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions,” said Sir Ken Robinson, world renowned expert on education and creativity, in his book “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.”
Perhaps we can all learn something from Robinson’s words: A school is a place where children can experience the joy of learning and education is a process in which they can explore their creative potentials.