Internationally there have been serious efforts to identify effective modes of delivering civic education for preparing youth for the future challenges of citizenship. This article addresses the research question, ‘why is an independent subject not preferred in civic education by Hong Kong civic education teachers?’. It starts with a brief review of international debates and of the development of civic education policy in Hong Kong. Then it moves on to discuss why teachers tend to reject civic education as an independent subject based on the findings from an interview informed research study. The findings reveal that teachers’ misunderstandings of the nature of civic education are the major reasons. Treating civic education as comprising educational activities involving the nurturing of attitudes, values and skills of students with little content knowledge, the teachers consider that civic education is best accomplished through, for example, extra-curricular activities and not as a subject that demands time slots in the school timetable. It is argued that these misunderstandings will have negative impacts on the effectiveness of civic education, which is unfavourable to the nurturing of democratic cultures necessary for the development of the democratic system in Hong Kong and has to be rectified. Lastly, some recommendations for rectification that relate to civil society are discussed. Hopefully, this article can shed light on the understanding of the preferences towards the modes of implementation of front line practitioners in schools internationally, since this phenomenon is common in some other nations. Copyright © 2014 Symposium Journals Ltd.