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10 Jun 2019

Learning How to Learn': Rooftop Institute's Practice and Imagination of Engaged Learning in Art

Photo: Rooftop Institute

Hok Hok Zaap (HHZ): 15 Initiatives of Engaged Learning in Art
Rooftop Institute


Supported by the Arts Capacity Development Funding Scheme, Hok Hok Zaap (HHZ): 15 Initiatives of Engaged Learning in Art is a two-year programme that invites 15 Hong Kong artists and groups to propose a series of teaching plans for engaged learning of art in a community setting, exploring the many possibilities of 'learning as social engagement'. The 15 teaching plans proposed by artists and groups will turn into publicly accessible education resources in different phases between 2019 to 2020.

Joey Chung
+852 6315 7375

Rooftop Institute
10/F, Foo Tak Building,
365 Hennessy Road,
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

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Text by Lam Yan, Rooftop Institute
Translated by Winnie Chau Wing Yu

Art is about trying, breaking-through and discovering. It stands in inherent contrast to traditional education, which stresses framework and indoctrination. Being concerned with the development of Hong Kong's arts education, artist-run charity organisation Rooftop Institute initiated a project titled 'Hok Zaap' ('learning' in Cantonese) last year. Supported by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, 'Hok Zaap' invited artist Luke Ching Chin Wai to employ 'language' as a medium to spark off cultural imagination and curiosity to connect primary school students from Hong Kong and the Philippines. Zheng Bo, on the other hand, conducted a meditative self-learning practice by observing weeds. He examined how we communicate and cooperate with the Earth under the current ecological crises, while promoting a good Anthropocene.

In the coming two years, Rooftop Institute will extend the experience of 'Hok Zaap' and plan the next stage, 'Hok Hok Zaap: 15 Initiatives of Engaged Learning in Art'. Funded by the Arts Capacity Development Funding Scheme, 'Hok Hok Zaap' has invited 15 Hong Kong artists and groups (including C&G Artpartment, Sushan Chan & Cho Wing Ki, Chung Wai Ian & Ng Ka Chun, Elaine W. Ho, Law Man Lok, Law Yuk Mui, Jeff Leung Chin Fung, Leung Ho Yin, Leung Tin Chak, Ocean Leung Yu Tung, Natalie Lo Lai Lai, Nerve, Morgan Wong Wing Fat, Yim Sui Fong, and Yuen Che Hung & Yan Liang) to design different community activities based on the theme 'learning as social engagement', which will be made into online learning resources for the public. For details about 'Hok Hok Zaap: 15 Initiatives of Engaged Learning in Art', please visit

The prerequisite of 'Engaged Learning' is students being willing to participate and be involved. Luke Ching raised a common misunderstanding of engaged learning, 'teachers are treated as if they are consumer goods. In fact, students still have to prepare themselves, to be patient and be ready to participate, instead of having the teachers to come up with ways to please to students.' When engaged learning is applied to the school system, its effectiveness will certainly be questioned; but if we rely on students to freely grasp and discover, how can we measure the learning outcome? Zheng Bo said, 'What does it mean to teach? It is about 'transmitting ideas, teaching knowledge and dispelling confusion', which are also impossible to be gauged by modern measures. But when students are actively discovering and participating, instead of sitting still and only repeating what you've told them, you are able to perceive it.'

In the future, how will Rooftop Institute bring these practical experiences back to the system and make changes in school education? We believe this is only the beginning of a very long journey.

In response to the 'Hok Zaap project', the publications, 'Easy to Learn Tagalog' and 'Hui Ti Xiu – Drawing Weeds Practice', designed respectively by artists Luke Ching and Zheng Bo are now on sale. For details, please email