UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Name of Author: 
Chan, Mei-Ioc
Northern Illinois University
Boughton, Douglas
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This research explored the interplay between teenage Macao Chinese students' symbolic understanding of the visual reality of their changing built environment and the formation of their personal and regional identities. The building of casinos and pawnshops amid schools and apartment buildings, the increase of non-Chinese architectural elements, and the lack of civic education and local history in Macao schools make problematic its Chinese teenage students' perceptions of their personal and regional identities. Adopting a mixed-method design, this research was based mainly on the philosophies of phenomenology, environmental psychology, hermeneutics, communication and semiotics, globalization and glocalization, global intelligence, and visual culture. The study revealed that with limited knowledge of historic local architecture and a distorted perception of the imitative Western architecture, the participants were generally apathetic toward their self-culture and indifferent about being Macao people. Their extreme familiarity with casino architecture did not translate into an understanding of its associated symbolic messages. Local architecture and the students' experience of the changing visual environment were not included in the art curriculum of the participant schools. The researcher argues the urgency of including local knowledge in a visual-culture-approach art curriculum to foster local, cultural, visual, and critical literacies and thus of preparing art teachers to become critical cultural observers. Since Macao's visual sociocultural environment is still evolving, continuing research on related identity issues is necessary.
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