Investigating the Experiences of Special School Visual Arts Teachers: An Illustration of Phenomenological Methods and Analysis
This paper reports on a recent hermeneutic phenomenological study aimed at understanding the experiences of special school teachers in Hong Kong, and specifically visual arts teachers tasked with teaching students with intellectual disabilities. Illustrating the use of a phenomenological research method, the paper outlines the methodology and procedure followed in respect of determining the source of data, conducting phenomenological interviews, and formulating themes. The themes that emerged from the interviews were examined in conjunction with the stories told by the teachers. The special school visual arts teachers who participated in this study have strong emotional and personal connections with their students. In relation to performing their teaching role, the teachers had experienced problems of various kinds, with many of these problems unique to the special school settings. In an effort to tackle these problems and improve their teaching, these teachers engaged in reflection and explored a variety of ways to enhance their students’ learning. Despite the practical learning problems their students experience, the teachers maintained that studying visual arts is beneficial to their students’ whole-person development. The paper concludes with a critical reflection on the nature of teaching visual arts to students with intellectual disabilities.