Geography Education in Asia: Samples from Different Countries and Turkey

By Incekara, Suleyman | Education, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

Geography Education in Asia: Samples from Different Countries and Turkey


Incekara, Suleyman, Education


Introduction

During the last few decades, rapid developments in all areas of the life have forced countries to rethink the quality of education they provide, considering whether their education systems are creating generations of global citizens with the ability to cope with increasingly significant issues of international cooperation and partnership, national and international security, and globalization. The increasingly deep relationships between Turkey and its neighbors and the rest of the world, including ongoing negotiations between Turkey and the EU, and strong historical and cultural ties between Turkey and many other parts of the world including the Middle East, Caucasia, Central Asia, the Balkans and even Africa make geography education especially important in Turkey, especially given the degree to which these relationships are contingent on Turkey's geographical position and potential.

Based on these kinds of developments, developed countries have started to reconfigure their education systems revamping physical facilities, teaching methods, curricula, and teacher education (Table 1). The main purpose of the revision process is to educate new generations in a competitive environment who can rival the rest of the world (Hardwick and Holtgireve, 1996: 13-23).

As a result of the revisions to and restructuring of education programs, standard-based teaching programs have appeared. This approach suggests a particular set of standards regarding what should be taught to students (curricula) and what abilities students should develop (skills), However, questions of how to teach the various subjects in a curriculum (teaching methods for courses like geography) are generally left to teachers.

In this approach, asking and answering questions about geography; obtaining, organizing, analyzing and synthesizing geographical information; and producing solution to the problems are seen as fundamental skills that students can acquire if standard based-programs are fully implemented (NGS, 1994:41). Standard-based geography education in regions like North America and Europe is based on fundamental components of word geography: spatial terms, social systems, physical systems, the practical uses of geography, places and regions, and environment and society. (RCGS, 2001: 2-3).

In response to such trends, The Turkish Ministry of National Education (MNE), which controls the national central educational system, has made radical changes to all primary and secondary school curricula. The new curriculum introduced in 2005 brought about enormous changes in content and design, time allocated for geography courses, teaching methods, and course materials based on a constructive approach. The new program from 2005 emphasized the integration of technology into geography classes at a maximum level, improving students' geographic skills, learning by doing, and efficient assessment and evaluation methods. (MNE, 2005:18).

Method

This qualitative study is a study based on a content analysis of geography curricula in selected Asian countries and Turkey. This method is based on comparing and contrasting national and international geography teaching systems. First, the general current state of geography teaching and learning in Asian countries will be discussed, after which the characteristics of Turkish geography education will be investigated.

In the comparison process, selected Asian countries will be presented as examples, after which general evaluations will be carried out. While we concentrate mainly on geography education at the secondary level, information about other levels of education will also be provided from time to time to encourage a comprehensive understanding of the subject.

The present condition of geography education in Turkey has been analyzed in terms of new geography curricula, teaching methods, problems experienced, and perceptions of geography as a science.

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Geography Education in Asia: Samples from Different Countries and Turkey
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