- Share the new insights and information you have gained from these conversations (or the podcast and Harvard website
Through my conversations with my international contacts I learned some very interesting information. I was sad to find out the information I did. It is a huge dream of mine to be able to teach in Turkey. Yet, after I found out this information I was a little discouraged. I discussed with my conversation partners what kinds of issues with equity and excellence do they see within education on a day to day basis. Both of them work in Turkish schools but with different age groups. They both shared similiar information. Through them I learned that Turkish schools are very exam driven. The education system in Turkey is driven by cramming stuff into children’s brains. This information is then expected to be unloaded on exams to demonstrate learning and understanding. They rely highly on drilling and memorization. Through our conversations I learned that because they are so exam driven they have had a huge problem with cheating. Unfortunately, cheating is not done by students alone. In fact, they both mentioned noticing teachers overlook cheating. In one case April shared that teachers were even encouraged to change the grades themselves, in order to make the school look better.
April worked in a kindergarten classroom in a Turkish School. She explained that her grade level is really trying to apply more modern methods of teaching to different learning styles, learning through play, and developing critical thinking skills. She explained this as skills most Turks are deficient in. Natalie explained that English is sort of illegal to be taught in schools as early as it is. Because of this she does not have to worry about the standards that the rest of the children in higher grades have to about. Instead she is able to work on her own. She explained the school as being highly standard oriented. She said if it does not pertain to standards it is not important.
This information really surprised me. I can feel the pressures they feel to being expected to living up to standards and practices of drilling and memorization. They both conveyed messages of not agreeing with how it was done. They also described the children as highly structured. April explained how she wished to bring out creativity in her students to help them express themselves. She also explained that Turkish children have a very hard time with play. I know the frustrations of not being able to allow as much free play as you believe the children should have. However, I only imagine how much pressure she feels with the expectation of cramming information in. I fear that this is what education is becoming like here in the U.S. with standards being raised and new standards coming into the lower grades in large amounts. I hope that we will not become only standard based and forget that these children are individuals who are creative human beings!