Civic Education Is An Important Component Sociology Essay Example
Civic Education Is An Important Component Sociology Essay Example

Civic Education Is An Important Component Sociology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 9 (2412 words)
  • Published: September 11, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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The origin of civic instruction can be traced back to ancient Grecian city states, where the term "citizen" referred to individuals participating in political affairs within the state. In Plato's ideal society, citizens were categorized into rulers, soldiers, and the general population, each requiring different forms of civic instruction. The duties of a good citizen depended on their abilities and role in society. For instance, rulers needed wisdom while soldiers required bravery; merchants and farmers were expected to exhibit moderation. This organizational structure outlined by Plato allowed individuals to understand their place in society and foster their civic allegiance. However, after World War II, countries recognized that this narrow perspective led to contradictions and began shifting focus towards universal values like equality, freedom, and justice. Consequently, nationalism started dissolving as the objective became educating students to become global citizens.In contemporary discussions on


civic instruction, J. Mark Halstead proposes analyzing it through three aspects: "about citizenship," "good citizenship," and "active citizenship." In the aspect of "about citizenship," civic instruction focuses on nurturing intelligent citizens with qualities like obedience, commitment, nationalism, and a sense of authority. "Good citizenship" highlights the importance of students socializing in society and displaying behaviors such as law-abidingness and politeness. Moreover, citizens also develop individual abilities to actively participate in society. Citizenship can be divided into inactive citizenship and active citizenship, as mentioned by Davison and Arthur (2006). In terms of inactive citizenship, citizens fulfill their societal duties by following laws and exhibiting politeness. Additionally, critical thinking skills are developed to enable participation in society. On the other hand, "active citizenship" places emphasis on children actively involving themselves in political, civil, and societal

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aspects of their community. Leung states that in Hong Kong's context of the 'One Country, Two Systems' policy framework for civic education aims to foster a sense of belonging to China and pride in being Chinese.The Basic Education Curriculum Guide of Moral and Civic Education highlights the importance of five core values and attitudes for students' personal and societal growth: 'Perseverance, Respect for Others, Responsibility, National Identity, and Commitment'. The objective of civic education in Hong Kong is to cultivate knowledgeable and responsible citizens who prioritize the well-being of others. The text explores five different manifestations of national patriotism: 'cosmopolitan patriotism', 'civic patriotism', 'cultural patriotism', 'anti-colonial patriotism', and 'totalitarian patriotism' (Leung, 2002). The first form, referred to as 'cosmopolitan patriotism', promotes equality among all cultural groups by advocating respect, care, and love regardless of race, gender, nationality, religion or social standing. It emphasizes an individual's duty to contribute towards societal improvement. The second form is known as 'civic patriotism' which defines a nation based on equal political rights shared by its people regardless of race, color, creed, gender language or ethnicity. This concept encourages citizen participation in governance and shaping national policies. Another variant called 'cultural patriotism' aims to foster national identity through a collective culture that strengthens unity using shared cultural traditions, historical heritage and a sense of belongingness as a nation. Lastly,'anti-colonial patriotism' stands against oppressive colonial authorities.


The text emphasizes the importance of national education in fostering patriotism, unity, and a sense of belonging among citizens. Parmenter (2005) suggests that national education instills a strong desire for political and economic independence, racial equality, and resistance against foreign rulers. Anderson (1991) states that

national instruction systems are essential for maintaining unity within a state. Reicher and Hopkins (2001) argue that educating citizens about their membership in the state and instilling appropriate behaviors and beliefs contribute to this goal. Yuan Guiren, the Minister of Education in China, asserts that all subjects should receive national instruction. Chen Zuoer supports this view by stating that national instruction is crucial for every state to foster a sense of responsibility towards the country. However, some scholars question whether Hong Kong residents should be required to undergo national instruction due to conflicting views on "civic instruction" versus "national instruction". Parmenter (2005) argues that promoting national cohesion and identity can potentially clash with a globally inclusive concept of citizenship that promotes equality among individuals.If the focus of national instruction is too much on fostering a sense of belonging, it can lead to fostering nationalism. Leung argues that individuality can have both positive and negative effects. On one hand, it can instill national pride among citizens, but on the other hand, it can have serious consequences. The term 'totalitarian patriotism' refers to a type of 'patriotism' that emphasizes loyalty and absolute obedience to the state, ruling party, and its leaders. In this concept, love for the country is equated with love for the ruling political party and its ideologies. Citizens strongly reject totalitarian patriotism in Hong Kong due to its association with communism, socialism, and mainland China's politics which are foreign to them. They fear the political influences from mainland China.


Additionally, Leung criticizes the educational system for abandoning civic instruction and replacing it with "national instruction." This new form of education excludes the

universal values taught in civic instruction.Leung (1995) criticizes the national instruction system for its exclusive focus on emotional recognition and promoting a sense of identity through the glorification of the country. The text highlights various negative aspects of the state's political party, including their mistakes, unfair judgment, and disregard for civil and human rights. It also discusses Hong Kong's core values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights that are universally recognized. However, it argues that these values may be limited within the context of the national education system, which prioritizes loyalty and formalities like flag-raising ceremonies. This narrow emphasis on national identity and emotions can hinder critical thinking among students. Furthermore, positive teaching materials in national education fail to cultivate a critical thinking attitude among students. Concerns about neglecting civic instruction topics such as human rights and democracy have been overshadowed by the focus on national instruction (Choi Po King, as cited in Leung). Morley raises questions about China's outdated model of national instruction, arguing that travel, media exposure, and electronic networks erode national boundaries.According to Morley (2000), the importance of territorial identity and citizenship diminishes as ideas about "place" and specific locations evolve. Parmenter (2005) argues that there is no theoretical conflict between national instruction and civic citizenship, as ancient Greece accepted the coexistence of state and world citizenship. It is crucial for individuals to recognize their multiple identities and presence in various territorial domains, based on the concept that individuals have complex understandings of themselves which may fluctuate between different and opposing identities. There is no conflict between national identity and citizenship, as well as distributed identity and citizenship; both types are

recognized in reality and theory. Cosmopolitanism rejects exclusive nationalism, gendered/racial thinking, and rigid cultural/natural divisions by perceiving the world in a broader sense. This mindset embraces political/ethical battles that acknowledges humanity's diverse ways of living. The aim of national education is to promote cosmopolitanism, aiding individuals in developing a critical/balanced sense of national identity and citizenship.National education is crucial for expanding people's perspectives beyond their own country. In Hong Kong, the development of national education holds particular significance as the region transitions from a British settlement to a Chinese Special Administrative Region. As early as 1985, the Education Department introduced "Guidelines on Civic Education in Schools," which aimed at fostering students' understanding of China's affairs and instilling loyalty and pride in being Chinese. However, due to the political environment, Hong Kong residents have struggled to grasp the concept of 'national individuality,' resulting in an unclear notion of national education.

While schools in Hong Kong teach subjects like Chinese language and history, they primarily focus on imparting knowledge rather than emphasizing students' sense of national identity. Civic education aims to educate students about society and their role as citizens in the world but does not explicitly prioritize the development of their national identity. The 1996 version of "Guidelines on Civic Education in Schools" emphasized educating students about human rights, democracy, the rule of law, critical thinking within a global context. Nonetheless, these guidelines remain policy documents that fail to address any contradictions between national education and civic education.It is crucial that national education goes beyond just being a part of civic education. The guidelines highlight the importance of democracy, legal regulation, human rights instruction, and critical thinking.

Additionally, they focus on developing positive values and attitudes in students, promoting identity-building, and fostering a sense of intimacy and belonging with the country. Personally, I believe that Civic Education and national instruction have different purposes, which can lead to contradiction and confusion regarding individuality.

The promotion of national instruction has been an essential aspect of curriculum development since 1997. Government handbills were issued shortly after 1997 to remind schools about displaying the national flag on important occasions and using national symbols (Lee, 2008). Tung Chee-hwa, the first Chief Executive, stressed the significance of national instruction and nationalism in cultivating a sense of national identity and called for community collaboration in nurturing loyal Chinese citizens. A study conducted in 2001 on curriculum development emphasized the necessity for students to comprehend their national identity and actively contribute to the nation and society. However, this form of education was still referred to as "civic instruction" initially but gradually promoted through practical participation.The National Education Center was established in 2004 by the pro-China Federation of Education Workers, strengthening efforts to promote national identity. As part of a circuit commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Second Sino-Japanese War triumph, IA participated in activities at the National Education Center. The circuit included visits to historical war sites and attendance at a seminar called "Three Years and Eight Months," which focused on the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong. One of the speakers, Miss Cai Song ying, is involved in preserving historical events. Listening attentively to her accounts and personal experiences during the war moved IA deeply. Miss Cai considers her work in giving seminars as a blessing that allows her to contribute

to our nation. This experience made IA realize that true patriotism means loving our country unconditionally without expecting anything in return.The HKSAR Government, in its 2007 Policy Address, encourages citizens to develop love for both their fatherland and Hong Kong, strive to achieve excellence, and contribute to the nation. To promote national identity and pride, as well as uphold the "one country, two systems" principle for Hong Kong's progress and prosperity, the government has implemented national education programs from schools to communities.

In schools, teachers and students participate in government-sponsored exchange programs aiming to facilitate a deeper understanding of China's current development and cultivate a sense of national identity through personal experiences. The Education Bureau (EDB), previously known as the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB), introduced a national education program in 2004 under the youth leadership award strategy. This initiative enabled 170 student leaders to engage in an eleven-day program in Beijing (Lee, 2008). Additionally, teachers, school center directors, and principals have been invited annually over the past decade to partake in training programs organized by local and mainland universities (Lee, 2008). In line with the Policy Address 2008 objectives, additional resources have also been allocated by the government to provide more comprehensive exchange opportunities for students at upper primary and junior secondary levels.The EDB implemented the "Tonggen Tongxin" program in 2008-2009 to cater to upper primary and junior secondary students. In the 2010-2011 school year, this program provided 16 different paths with specific themes for 27,000 participants, including local instructors and students. Furthermore, the EDB released a paper on the Moral and National Education Curriculum earlier this year, proposing the introduction of a separate subject

called national education for Hong Kong students in primary and secondary schools.

Despite the EDB's efforts to promote patriotic education through various channels such as schools, communities, and media resources, key aspects of citizenship education like human rights, democracy, and social justice are not covered in the mainstream curriculum (Tse, 2007). At my school, our music teachers teach us the national anthem during music lessons and assemblies. Prior to 1997 when Hong Kong returned to China from British rule, "God save the Queen" was its anthem. Since then,"March of the Volunteers," which is also China's national anthem has been adopted as Hong Kong's anthem. This fosters a sense of belonging among teenagers.

Although we don't have dedicated Liberal Studies lessons at my school,some teachers like my History teacher update us on current events and encourage discussions about different perspectives.Furthermore, our school arranges seminars featuring distinguished scholars like Allen Lee Peng Fei.


In the community, participating in international competitions and events can further strengthen the sense of belonging to China among Hong Kong residents. The HKSAR authorities have invited renowned Chinese female athletes who achieved success in the Beijing Olympics to attend celebration events at Hong Kong Stadium. These events, coupled with significant achievements such as the first Chinese spacewalk, have bolstered the sense of pride and connection among Hong Kong people, fostering stronger ties between Hong Kong and China. Public television broadcasts also contribute to this unity by showcasing images of diverse individuals from various regions in China before the 6:30 news report. This emphasizes the significance of solidarity among Chinese citizens. Additionally, a televised program called 'A Bite of China,' which premiered in 2012,

highlights the positive aspects of Chinese culture and cuisine.
However, overlooking or disregarding negative aspects relating to China restricts one's thinking capacity and may result in political indoctrination. Civic education aims to promote independent critical thinking and active involvement; hence it is crucial for Hong Kong residents not to ignore these negatives. National Education plays a pivotal role in cultivating students' acceptance of their Chinese identity and enhancing their understanding of Chinese values through engagement with local, national, and global affairs.The efforts ultimately promote citizens' sense of belonging and individuality. In my opinion, teaching nationalism is not as simple as teaching someone how to love. I believe that every person in Hong Kong should have the freedom to choose their love for their country and their agreement or disagreement with Chinese culture while still feeling connected to China. To make these choices, Hong Kong residents need a better understanding of China through three different approaches. If the majority of Hong Kong residents possess critical thinking skills, it could lead to the establishment of a mature civic society. Therefore, citizenship education can contribute to the development of open-minded national education for cosmopolitan and diverse cities like Hong Kong.

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