Prof. Dr., Inönü University, Faculty of Science and Letters, the Department of Sociology.
Basis of the Study: Education is considered to be a system that provides solutions to communal problems, developing individual skills, bringing enlightenment and peace to people. However, the situation is somewhat different in Turkey, for education, which is regarded as a problem-solving activity, has itself become a problem. The Turkish education system has become one of our most serious social problems. This problem essentially stems from discussions over which civilization Turkey belongs to: the Eastern or the Western. The conflict between old and new in the Turkish education system is essentially a struggle between those who claim that “Turkish society is an Eastern society” (anti-Westerners) and those who claim that “It is a Western society” (pro-Westerners). This dispute is directly related to the ongoing process of Westernization that started in the 19th century. The Turkish education system is suffering from the conflict between old and new. The article is based on the premise that both parties, in effect, have an understanding of education that produces similar results.
Purpose of the Study: The aim of this article is to reveal the fact that the conflict between old and new afflicting the Turkish education system is a fruitless discussion by showing that both pro- and anti-Westerners have an understanding of education that inhibits students’ creative skills, puts the teacher at the center, furnishes students with unnecessary information, prioritizes rote learning, defends discipline and makes students restless and unhappy. Some suggestions shall be offered for a new education system without taking sides with either of the disputing parties.
Source of Evidence: This article takes its cue from the following observations: i) The Turkish education system is not up to par due to the conflict between old and new; ii) It is afflicted by the inconsistencies as its targets are constantly changed and it is often left without targets; iii) It is constantly (re)structured by the governments alternating between the anti-Westerner conservatives and the pro-Westerners. The point of departure for this article is that the Turkish education system fails to produce happy, joyful, lively, free, talented, skilled, knowledgeable, honest and virtuous individuals.
Main Argument and Conclusions: This article focuses on the shortcomings and deficiencies of the Turkish education system. It negates the age-old conflict between old and new, and pursues the ideal education system where students are happy, discovering and improving their skills. It is a critique of the understanding that prioritizes the teacher and curriculum, encourages rote learning and defends oppression and discipline. It seeks the ways in which we can produce virtuous, happy and skilled individuals with free spirits and critical thinking skills, and who are at peace with themselves, their history and society. The article also emphasizes the urgency to find new solutions for our education system exempt from those voiced by the parties in the conflict between old and new.
Keywords: the Turkish education system, rote learning, oppressive education, free education, playful education, the ideal education system.