Everyone’s first school is their home. But in Chinese societies where the school system has fully matured, studying at home has become an anomaly. The importance Chinese place on education is well-known, all parents wish their children to achieve great success; but under a group consciousness where testing is at the forefront of education, manipulating teaching materials to create a diversified education program that addresses each student’s aptitude has become an important topic.
This film looks at four different families – the Polish and Taiwanese CHEN-WERNIK family, the traditional ZHAN family, the LUO family, who adjusted to traditional education yet still chose homeschooling, and the MALCOLM family, who had experienced hurdles in school and found solace in a non-traditional school – and examines their backgrounds which led them all to homeschooling, their situations, and their stories.
Taiwan is currently the only Chinese region which has legalized homeschooling, however its undertaking is still hindered by various problems. The four families in the film have all said “No” to the traditional education system and bravely forged their own paths, confronting mainstream education and societal values which have become riddled with disadvantages and difficulties.
Does the desire for your children to grow up happily contradict the desire for them to become successful? What kind of educational environment should we prepare for our children? What kind of people will society need in the future? How should families with different backgrounds and children with different talents select a proper education? What is best for children? All of these questions require long-term observation and experimentation.
We only have one chance at life. Education has an irreversible impact on children and deserves our concerted efforts.
About the Director
Albert J.L HUANG was born in Taipei in 1962. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Cinema and Photography from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree in Photography from the School of Visual Arts, he became the photographer for the 1992 film The Wedding Banquet.
In 1993 he returned to Taiwan to teach at Fu Jen University, Tamkang University, National Taipei University of Technology, and National Taiwan University of Arts. In 1999, he directed Taiwan Shaking Up which was nominated for the Golden Bell Awards Educational Film Production Award. In 2005 he founded Imaging Image Production and cooperated with the Discovery Channel for the first time.
His 2011 film War Game 229 is a humorous take on the generation gap between the old soldiers in military dependents’ villages and their children. Their mock war game relates the story of a Taiwan in the shadow of conflict and has received excellent reviews.
2013 Temple Inc.: Guan Gong
2011 Taiwan Revealed: The Presidential Office
2009 Eye On Taiwan: Female Funeral Directors
2009 921 Earthquake Special
2005 Portraits Taiwan: Lin Hwai-Min
From the Director
The nurturing of a child begins at conception. As they grow, attending school for the first time is naturally a milestone in their life, but will the relationship between education and upbringing change after entering school?
Everyone knows Taiwan education has many critical problems. The series of reformations attest to the desire of finding the correct path, yet differing opinions and criticisms continue to disrupt the process. Most parents bear with the current system in silence while thinking of a way to put their child through to the best schools or find cram schools and tutors to supplement their education. Very few follow the path of our film’s subjects and choose a method outside the educational system – homeschooling.
After years of filming documentaries, I understand the most basic skill a director needs is to be able to immerse yourself in your subject’s situation, yet still be able to step back and analyze the entire picture. But while filming Home School , I had an immensely difficult time trying to maintain an objective view.
In 1986 when I was 24, I insisted to the clerk at the American Institute in Taiwan that my reason for going to the US to study photography was to return to Taiwan and become a teacher. The clerk, however, was not convinced and denied my visa. Afterwards, with the aid of many friends and much legwork, I succeeded and returned. Now, as an experienced teacher and father, I must face my own children’s education: How can I pass on my knowledge and life experience to the next generation?
I can completely understand the difficulties these families face, choosing a road almost no one has walked before, devoting all their time, resources, and effort to their children. They forego their own careers for their children’s education and grow with them at home. Their only grievance with schools is that they are convinced no one would devote so selflessly to their children as themselves.
Home schools are not the result of money or family situations, but of this selfless and relentless attitude. I, myself, am no match; I can only remain behind the camera and admire the parents in this film.
All of us today are the product of our parents’ nurturance. As mothers and fathers in the current Taiwan, is everything we have to give our children enough to face the world of tomorrow?
Home schools will teach us all a valuable lesson.