Free «In Search of an Identity: The Politics of History Teaching in Hong Kong» Essay

In Search of an Identity: The Politics of History Teaching in Hong Kong

Basically, the book In Search of an Identity: The Politics of History Teaching in Hong Kong, 1960's-2002 by Edward Vickers is dedicated to the analysis of the teaching policy and its evolution during the last decades. The main stress of the work was laid on the post-colonial development of the history teaching tradition at secondary schools of Hong Kong. According to the author, the nature of the History curriculum cannot be understood and properly interpreted without the relation to the separate subjects such as the Chinese and world’s history. What is more, we have to pay attention to general movement of particular changes during that time (Butenhoff, 1999). Thus, the author attempts to analyse the situation in six chapters of his book and presents the independent vision of the events that contributed to the creation of the new approaches in teaching history on post-colonial territory of China in general, and Hong Kong in particular.

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At the beginning of his fundamental work, Edward Vickers described the changes in political, social and cultural life that took place in the 1960s and contributed to the collaborative partnership between local elites and the British or Beijing-sponsored local government that was influenced by the population.

According to the author, during the period of 1950-1960, History at all levels of the curriculum for the elitist Anglo-Chinese schools provided students with a perspective on the world history which was based on the European, and particularly the British vision. Moreover, Asian, Chinese and even Hong Kong history was included in syllabuses, but in the context of “discovery” by Europeans; it was also influenced by the European constant political, social and economic development (Tsang, 1995).

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The real changes came to the sphere of teaching history in the 1970s, when it faced the efforts of the history teachers, who tried to make some corrections but were not able to rely on a captive audience of highly-motivated “elite” students (that were happy to study academic subjects geared principally to the requirements of university entrance) (Clayton, 2003).

Therefore, the author insists that modern interpretation of Hong Kong history as the school subject is strongly influenced by social and political issues. The post-colonial educational system demanded the presentation of a single, monolithic, homogenous Chinese culture and that made the vision of history teaching in Hong Kong more liberal (Koo, 2005). Therefore, this history is more related to the culture or colonialism than to the political context that is traditionally considered to be illiberal and undemocratic.

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