Constructive patriotism preferred: Study

Updated: 2012-07-25 07:10

(HK Edition)

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To explore the nature of national consciousness among local students, the researchers from the City University (CityU) adopted the theoretical definition of "blind" and "constructive" patriotism coined by American scholar Ervin Staub in a 1991 thesis.

When a person's relationship with the nation is characterized by rigid identification, staunch allegiance and intolerance of criticism, he was called a blind patriot.

If a person's relationship with country is characterized by a more flexible identification, support for constructive criticism and a desire to implement positive change, he was a constructive patriot.

The study showed the students were not only able to distinguish the difference, but also strongly endorsed the approach of constructive patriotism. It also showed knowledge in the nation and Hong Kong would encourage constructive patriotism and drive out blind patriotism.

Notably, the students' participation in activities billed under national education does not show correlation to their identities.

Chui Ting-wan, 17, is the lead flag raiser at the Ju Ching Chu Secondary School (Yuen Long). He was well informed about the constitutional importance of flag raising, but on national education he remembered only some notes which were given as part of the training.

Much of Ting-wan's understanding of the mainland comes from the monthly family visits. Impressed by new big malls rising from the mainland cities, he also raised concerns over civic awareness on the mainland.

Though he spends a lot of time with the national flag, he identified himself as a "Chinese in Hong Kong" as every aspect of his life is within the city - a common choice among local students.

Given that "loving the country and loving Hong Kong were psychologically bound together", the researchers at CityU advised that national education should also pay substantial attention to the love of Hong Kong. They are worried that a curriculum stressing on a single identity may deliver opposite results.

The delay of enforcing national education in schools, as the study noted, has somehow provided more time for the students to be brought to the attention of the adult world.

The research was commissioned by the Central Policy Unit with an objective to inform policies and practices of national education. The advisory unit declined China Daily's request for a full report as it only served internal reference.

(HK Edition 07/25/2012 page4)