Citizenship in Chinese is a borrowed term that might have many different meanings, which refers to citizens’ rights, qualifications, beings, qualities, and dispositions. Different versions of Chinese translation present different understandings to citizenship and civic education in history, which might emphasize the different and specific connotations such as the political and legal education, psychological character in morality, comprehensive qualities covering the knowledge, skills, emotions, attitudes, morality, values, and capabilities etc. In current theoretical discussions in the English-speaking world, the traditional terms such as civic education or civics are being replaced by such terms as citizenship education (Kymlicka, 2000, p. 1) or Education for Democratic Citizenship (Kymlicka, 2000, p. 1) etc. The changes of the terminology not only indicate the transition in educational linguistics but also the quiet transformation of the idea of citizenship education. Further, it represents the expansion of the connotation and scope of citizenship, which is attached to the importance of active and community-based good citizen in contrast to the passive identity in the sense of the strict legal sense in the background of social transition.

Citizenship education is not a new concept. During the periods of ancient Greece and Rome, or the time of Confucianism or Legalism in ancient China, citizenship was only the symbol of privilege of the elites, whose education belonged to the first citizens called by Janoski (Janoski, 1998, pp. 28-74) emphasizing the selfcivic virtues and ethics and obligations of a subject’s education in a broader sense. The revival of citizenship education currently stands for the new tendency of civic education in schools in nation-states, whose area is enlarged by the spreading of civic rights. It means the classic individual (first) identity has been transformed to the public (We-ness) identity which is the institutional knowledge of politics, society, legislation, and engagement of the modern nation-state. This is also called the educational period of the second citizen.

The four kinds of knowledge above not only compose the basic principles and values of citizenship education in ancient time, but the definite and teachable logics of civic curriculum. In contemporary society, citizenship education asks for more active and engaged actions, which is a continuum covering the scopes from the narrowest to broadest sense, from the individual to the community (We-ness), and from the passive to the active. Modernization of the concept of citizenship has become the start of civic education dominated by the willing nation-state. With the development of social democracy and individual rights, we can find the models of adult citizenship relating to three models: liberal democracy, communitarian democracy, and social or expansive democracy (Janoski, 1998, p. 226). In the area of education, citizenship education has broken through the limits of the first and second citizen, which stresses not only the teaching and learning of the knowledge or qualification of identity of citizenship, but the practice and engagement based upon the values of community for the purpose of adjusting to complicated social changes.

To the traditional civic education, citizenship education has more specific values of “comparison”. Zhang (2000) gives a definition of citizenship education or national education that seems to be more easily accepted by most Chinese with the comparison of the status-quo of national identities in Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan. The conception is that citizenship education is a process of constructing collective identity concerning the idea of We-ness in the same nation-state. The core point of this concept is the cultivation of public identity or the values of community. Compared with the individual identities of interest, ability, disposition, right, and duty, the identity of We-ness or public identity seems to be more complicated and has the strong quality of comparison. Put into categories, it could be divided by the inside and outside or politically, economically, and culturally etc. For the qualities, it could be distinguished by sex, ethics, language, nationality, culture, religion, profession, etc. For the theories, it could be grouped into psychological analytics, feminism, culturalism, Marxism etc. For the origins, it could be differed by modernism and post-modernism. Moreover, the revival of citizenship education has represented an important change from the identity of civic-self to We-ness. Considering the complicated explanations in civic education or citizenship education from different academic views, CCE is more often used to refer to CE or others like it.

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