Roadblocks to educational reform: Investigating knowledge and practice of Hong Kong kindergarten teachers

Yuen Ling Joyce LI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Early childhood education in Hong Kong is in a transition time. The Hong Kong government’s Education Commission is urging the field of early childhood education to engage in a substantial paradigm shift in order to achieve the goals of educational reform (Education Commission, 1999a). Informed by recent overseas research, government directives have asserted that “self-development”, and a “willingness to experiment and explore” (Education Commission, 1999b) the ideas of active learning. However, those precepts may not match Hong Kong teachers’ knowledge about how “good” teachers teach and how young children learn efficiently. Experience in other contexts worldwide has shown that rhetoric alone will not help teachers embrace change (Hargreaves, 1992; Wood & Bennett, 2000). Information about teachers’ knowledge and practice would guide interventions that align teachers with the government’s policies. However, little research has investigated early childhood teachers’ knowledge and practice in the Hong Kong context. This article reports the findings of a study that explored the richness and variety of teaching in kindergarten classrooms in Hong Kong. Case studies of nine teachers show that the teachers use similar teaching strategies despite articulating different knowledge of teaching and learning. A paradigm of warmth, control, and structure are at work in the kindergartens. The study suggests that early childhood teachers in Hong Kong may require a great deal of support to embed the government’s educational reform policies into classroom practice. Copyright © 2003 Rowman & Littlefield Education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-229
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Reform
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


kindergarten teacher
educational reform
Hong Kong
government reform
reform policy
teaching strategy
government policy


Li, Y. L. (2003). Roadblocks to educational reform: Investigating knowledge and practice of Hong Kong kindergarten teachers. International Journal of Educational Reform, 12(3), 217-229.


  • Teacher Education
  • Teacher Education and Professional Development