Numerous commentators argue that the worldwide use of English in education is an important outcome of colonialism. While accepting that there is much truth in this general conclusion, the present authors also recognize an irony. In too few cases do commentators base their arguments on historical evidence; in too many, they treat colonialism as an unchanging concept. They have colonized 'colonialism'. One such commentator, relying largely on the anachronisms of postcolonial discourse, chose Hong Kong as the focus of study. The present authors compare his rhetoric with available primary sources about language and education in Hong Kong, concluding that the specific situations have been and are much more complex than his methodology could appreciate. Thus, they present a case for 'bottom-up', rather than 'top-down', histories of colonial education and, in particular, of the historical role of language in education.
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