Friday, October 29, 2010

Johnson Tan Chin Kwang on Learning Calligraphy by English Educated 陈振光谈受英文教育者学书法

陈振光与他的书法 Johnson and his calligraphy
Today, Johnson Tan, an English educated, shares with us his determination and experiences in learning Chinese calligraphy.

As the Chinese saying goes ‘live and learn’, continuous learning is so important in today’s fast changing world that one must learn fast to catch up with the pace. In my days of primary and secondary education, the schools in Singapore are divided into English stream or Chinese stream. All pupils needed to study a second language in order to complete their studies. For me, I studied in an English school and Chinese was my second language subject. Chinese studies during my time were very basic and it is more a language consisted of oral practice and composition writing. It was always a struggle for me when it came to class test, examination on dictation or write from memory. For all we need to do actually was just to memorize all the wordings and writings by hard. How strokes were written was not considered to be important as long as the words look recognisable on paper and the phrasing is proper. I learned very little about Chinese classical literature or history, although I would like to learn some idioms that can be used in composition for getting extra marks. No Chinese brush was used then and Calligraphy to me was just something for a small elite group of Chinese educated scholars. I survived through this education system. And it is history now.
For me, conversational Chinese and reading the classic/complicated font are quite manageable and life goes on. Writing in Chinese is generally not common in my working environment and as years passed by I have returned what I have learned to my Chinese teachers.
And then there is a need to do business with China, as most businesses today cannot miss the opportunity created by this big and fast growing economy. However, this is becoming a challenge for me. If I can speak fluently in Mandarin and am able to read Chinese, I can position myself well within the China business circle. But, the fact is that what I learned in school is not good enough. The rich and long history of China are much more than what I had learned before and the Chinese literature, classics, poems, writing and many more are just alien to me.
With no regrets for the past, I try to find opportunities to read and write in Chinese. Now my weekends mean having to read the Singapore main Chinese newspaper Zaobao together with my daily Straits Times. In order to brush up my Chinese, I also watch Chinese classic serial movies like the ‘The Romance of the Three Kingdoms’, ‘Water Margin’, ‘Kangxi Dynasty’, ‘The Grand Mansion’. These are just some very good serial movies that conveniently provide me with some facts on Chinese history and other Chinese knowledge.
A Chinese folktale talks about ‘The old man moves a mountain’, which is actually about how ‘Faith can move mountain and without Faith, non-existing mountain will just be created’. There is also a saying that ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step’. All these encouraging and positive idioms are very useful and applicable in our lifestyle that I would like to share with you. I take the courage and determination to enrol in a 3-year learning course on Chinese Calligraphy and literature at the CCSS. During the 3 year period, I had the privilege to learn from my teachers, my seniors and peers. There are many pains and gains through this learning process which I can share with you in future.
To end this note, I must say that ‘If I can make it, you can make it too’, as there should be no hurdles or obstacles for an English educated person to learn Chinese writing or Calligraphy if he or she got the will power.

对我而言,以华语交谈与阅读繁体字一般没有问题,而日子就这样一天天过去。在我的工作环境里,华文并不常用。一年过一年,过去所学的,都已经还给华文老师了。随着日子的过去, 需要与中国做生意,因为无人能忽视这个大而快速增长的经济体。这就给我麻烦了。如果我能说流利的华语,再加上能够阅读华文,在华人生意环境里,就能处于有利的位置。可是以前所学根本就不足够。中国丰富而长远的历史,远远多过我以前所学;而中国文学、古典经文、诗词、文字以及其他的东西,对我而言,形同外星人。
不去埋怨过去,我尝试寻找机会来读与写华文。每个周末,我会将本地主要的中文报 -- 联合早报和每天都读的英文海峡时报一齐读。为了加强华文学习,也观看华语古典电影,如‘三国演义’、‘水浒传’、‘康熙王朝’、‘大宅门’。我也很轻松地从这些连续剧得到中国一些历史与其他方面的知识。
智者言‘移公移山’是指‘信念可以移动山丘,没有信念,不存的山丘就也存在’。亦言:‘千里之行,始于足下。’这些含有积极与鼓舞意义的成语都是我想与大家分享的 ,有利于我们应用于日常生活之中。我鼓起勇气参加了书协的三年书法与文学课程。在这三年间,我庆幸能从我的师长、学长 、同学中学习。以后,我将继续与各位分享我的学习过程中的甘与苦。


  1. 如果英校生都能学书法,那就表示我们新加坡的书法学习市场潜力大,前途无量。我们的书法教育者,加油,加油!

  2. 目前有许多非华人都在积极学习华文,有些也在学习国画、书法、京戏,而且成绩斐然,所以,华人受英文教育者学习书法一定不成问题,重要的是要具备像振光君一样的学习热忱、意志力,和热爱自己民族的传统和文化,为他喝彩也希望更多人加入他的行列,努力!加油!

  3. 看来这个网站的网主已经起催化作用,为我们的英校生学习中华文化开航,公德无量也。

  4. 老叟不才,斗胆设网站胡言乱语,只为防止老人痴呆病发作,所谓以毒攻毒,乱语防痴呆之意也。即将进入耳顺之年,也就顾不了词不达意,文法不通的问题了。

  5. 这真是一副令人感到温馨的画面,料不到穿著这么时尚新潮的英校生会这么热爱中华文化,並且能写出一手好书法,真是不可思议。我们应该给他加油打气,希望他能再接再厉,更上一层楼。