Art education is not uncommon in the west as it is considered as part of quality education for individuals. In Macao, quality education is becoming increasingly popular and more and more parents are paying attention to their children’s art education. In order to meet the growing demand, schools and commercial education centres are developing art education features for their curriculum, offering art courses for children and creating a new art education environment for children in the city.
In this issue, we have invited Premier School Affiliated to Hou Kong Middle School, dance studio TDSM Kid Dance and experienced art educator Bonnie Leong to share their take on art education for children in Macao.
Premier School Affiliated to Hou Kong Middle School: art education provides well-rounded development for students
Premier School Affiliated to Hou Kong Middle School (HKP) serves children from K1 (three-year-olds) through high school graduation (K1-S6), with a focus on quality education as one of its features. By setting up diverse art courses for its students, HKP aims to cultivate the future generation’s artistic conservation, art expression, moral behaviours and confidence. According to Vice Principal of Hou Kong Middle School, Chan Hong, the school’s art education covers all levels of study, including music, visual art, performing arts and dance, which allows students to have well-rounded development.
Tailored art courses for students of different levels
HKP has distinct features in language teaching, art education and sportsmanship. “We are not trying to become an art academy. But we believe that art education is very beneficial to our students,” Chan explained. “The school pays close attention to the art education of the students since they joined HKP at the age of three. Learning about art at an early age can help them become well-rounded individuals with an innovative spirit and positive character. That is why it is extremely important to provide art education for our students.”
At present, HKP offers art courses in music, painting, calligraphy and choreography. “Our music course, for example, is designed in accordance with the psychological development needs of children,” Chan further explained. “We have set up the piano course for students from K3 to P3. For students coming from P4 to P6, we have a string course. In the middle school education, we have set up an elective course in wind music. We set up these courses to allow each student to maximise their potential. Apart from that, HKP also hopes that every student in the school could at least learn one art. It would prove to be incredibly beneficial to their future development.”
Building an art environment
According to the Vice Principal Chan, HKP provides equal access to art education for every student. “The school provides a sufficient number of pianos for students to use in class. During weekends, the piano rooms are all open to our students so that they can have the place and time to practise,” Chan said. In addition, she also stated that the school didn’t set up art courses to cater to parents’ preferences but rather out of social responsibility to enhance the art conservation in Macao starting from the young generation.
Art education can boost students’ creativity, imagination and innovative abilities. “The school will not force students to learn art. Instead, we encourage students to learn art voluntarily by facilitating an immersive art environment where students can have some general ideas about art and will be able to appreciate art and have their own understanding,” Chan explained. “Parents’ support and participation also play an important role in our art education. Parents all show a supportive and positive attitude to the school’s art education.”
HKP combines conventional courses with performing arts. “The teachers will integrate performing arts into their teaching. They will let students play the characters from literature, which allows the students to have a deeper understanding of the historical backgrounds of the characters and their relationship,” Chan explained. “Performing on stage not only allows students to have a deeper understanding of the knowledge they learn from textbooks but also enhances their confidence and helps them build a better relationship with their peers.” Such transformation requires a long period of practice and cannot be achieved through only a few classes, she added.
“In addition, the school arranges a piano performance in the auditorium before the classes start. During the class, we will also play famous masterpieces from China and overseas,” Chan said. “We regularly invite artists from both home and abroad to perform. We are building an artistic environment in the school through diverse means.”
Providing a general art education
In comparison to commercial art education centres in the local market, HKP’s art education is more general and aims to promote well-rounded development among students. “The art education centres in the market provides professional training for learners. But at HKP, we want to provide a platform where students can have access to general art education and explore what they are interested in. If students have an interest in learning more about art, they can find a suitable art education centre for advanced training,” Chan commented.
Vice Principal Chan believes that there are quite a number of quality intangible cultural heritages in Macao, such as the drunk dragon dance, Cantonese Naamyam and local folk dance, which can be integrated into the school’s art education curriculum to educate students on local traditions and culture. From her perspective, it should be a responsibility for people in Macao to preserve and pass on local culture. “HKP plans to bring local culture and arts into the campus to promote the preservation of the local culture. In addition to that, we are also planning to hire relevant art talents and further build up our teaching team to improve the quality of our art education.”