Our main concern is to see if cultural studies can intervene more productively in the dominant educational processes, in ways that align with the sustainable interests of its critical project. As cynicism becomes the commonplace ‘distinction’ of our young graduates, we raise two questions: why should cultural studies be concerned with the spread of cynicism within our own institutional and pedagogic space? And what would be the implications of such critical reflection on our current practices, as scholar and teacher of this critical project? The paper draws on our continual engagement with the curriculum reform of secondary school subjects (Integrated Humanities and Liberal Studies) in Hong Kong, in an attempt to explore the limits and opportunities of education as social practice, as well as the effectivity of cultural studies within the contemporary contexts and crises of education. First we describe how taking part in the specific school reform projects has begun to change the critical and pedagogic orientation of cultural studies we do at the university. Then we discuss the implications of our recent experiments in doing cultural studies in and with the local schools. In all, we want to examine what brings us to our own search for a certain ‘politics of hope’, by re‐thinking and re‐mapping cultural studies as a collective, pragmatic programme in the local educational set‐up. For, without a constructive pragmatics, the students of cultural studies cannot be expected to work effectively across diverse institutional settings. Thus, criticism and the production of critical knowledge in the contemporary academy would go on to foster a state of cynicism among its graduates and the ‘stakeholders’ concerned. Cultural studies, we believe, can make itself more useful through concrete ways of mediating its expertise in the complex processes of education. As such, we emphasize the contemporary relevance and uses of cultural studies for educational transformation.