An analysis of the role of Hong Kong school principals in supporting the teaching of civic education

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Abstract

Given substantial school autonomy in Hong Kong, different school leadership practices can yield different school environments for teachers, different degrees of teacher empowerment, and different civic teaching approaches. Principals can influence their school environment in civic learning and allocate resources to support civic education. Considerable attention has been given to the concept of ‘leading for learning’ (Goker, 2006) but there has been little attention given to civic learning in schools and how it might be facilitated by principals (Xu and Law, 2015). Given the volatile and uncertain external environment that students as future citizens face, civic learning must now be considered a priority. Kennedy, Li and Chan (2015) and Kennedy and Li (2017) have shown that school level factors can influence students’ civic learning, although the results are somewhat mixed, clearly this requires further investigation. This study extends this line of research by examining how principals create school civic teaching environments and how these influence teachers in their roles as civic educators. The results showed that the complex historical-cultural and socio-political contexts of Hong Kong have influenced school leadership when it comes to teaching civics, and the researcher has highlighted three main patterns of school leadership needed for civics teaching. When school leadership lacked a clear vision of citizenship education (pattern 1), most teachers were compliant and avoided dis-cussing sensitive political topics with their students. When school leadership mediated the diverse needs of students and balanced the different expectations of school stakeholders (pattern 2), there were both compliant and critical teachers. When school leadership had a clear vison of the school’s civic mission (pattern 3), the results differed across schools. These findings implied that principals have to significantly shift their understanding of the purposes of citizenship education and of their own roles, in order to provide greater autonomy for teachers. Copyright © 2019 CiCea.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

Citation

Wong, K. L., Kennedy, K. J., & Lee, C. K. J. (2019, May). An analysis of the role of Hong Kong school principals in supporting the teaching of civic education. Paper presented at the 21st Annual Children’s Identity and Citizenship European Association Conference (CiCea 2019): Europe at a Crossroads: Rights, Values and Identity, Charles University, Karolinum, Czech.

Keywords

  • Self-efficacy
  • Autonomy
  • Empowerment
  • Citizenship
  • Leadership

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