Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

An Investigation of Prospective Teachers' Attitudes toward Educational Reforms in Turkey*

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

An Investigation of Prospective Teachers' Attitudes toward Educational Reforms in Turkey*

Article excerpt

Many societies have experienced periods of critical adaptation to new reforms (Ergün, 2003), particularly in education since this sector plays a crucial role in structuring the transfer of knowledge, social behaviors, and cultural awareness (Özden & Turan, 2011; Saylan, 2007). In Turkey, beginning in the last years of the Ottoman Empire and continuing during the history of the Turkish Republic, there have been many reforms in education. Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkish society, carried out particularly extensive reforms, emphasizing that education would be the touchstone and that teachers would be the key leaders in national reform movements (Karagözoglu, 1991).

Educational reforms can be fundamental or external, affecting the whole structure of the system, or internal, having a less sweeping impact on the system (Ergün, 2003). These two categories of reforms can be interrelated; that is, an external school reform can also result in internal school reform (Aytaç, 1966). Turkey has seen many types of both external and internal reforms in its education system.

Educational Reforms in Turkey from Past to Present

From the historical point of view, sociopolitical changes have had significant effects on the Turkish education system (Akinoglu, 2008). Following are some examples of reform activities during the past century.

Curriculum Development Studies: Curriculum development studies in Turkey began with the proclamation of the republic. In 1924, all educational institutions were united under the Ministry of Education and in-depth studies of school programs were conducted (Demirel, 1992). Thus the Ministry of Education became the sole authority governing educational institutions (Gözütok, 2003). In 1924, 1936, 1948, and 1962, new primary school programs were introduced as societal and individual needs changed. The program developed in 1962 was tested for five years and then, after the completion of necessary revisions, was introduced in 1968 throughout the country (Fer, 2005). In 1982, another new program, developed cooperatively with Turkish universities, was introduced (Demirel, 2008). At the beginning of the 1990s, a project supported by the World Bank was initiated, with new educational materials and course books being developed in 1993 (Koç, Isiksal, & Bulut, 2007). Through 2003, further curriculum development studies took place in various topic areas. The most recent program, developed in 2004, incorporated three new approaches: the constructivist approach, the student-centered learning approach, and the spiral approach (Atasönmez, 2008; Erdogan, 2007). Moreover, changes in higher education programs, parallel to those occurring in primary and secondary education programs, were necessary (Aksit, 2007).

Eight-Year Continuous Compulsory Education: Along with these curriculum studies, broader external reforms also took place. For instance, in the first years of the republic there were two stages of primary school (lasting three and two years, respectively); later they were united into a five-year primary school education program (Tertemiz, Kalayci, & Çelenk, 2000). In 1997, eight- year continuous compulsory education, one of the most important external structural reforms of the Turkish education system, was approved. Parallel to this reform, institutions of higher education also restructured teacher training systems (Ergün, 2003).

Pre-service Teacher Education: Türkan and Grossman (2011) stated that Turkish teachers were still widely using traditional teacher-centered methods that disregard students' individual differences. In a project supported by the World Bank, a reform-minded study on the restructuring the education faculties was conducted (Grossman & Sands, 2008). As a result of this reform movement, programs, course syllabi, departmental structures, and lesson content were changed and reorganized (Grossman, Önkol, & Sands, 2007).

Regulations Governing University Entrance: In recent years, one of the most extensive reforms in Turkey has centered on the transition to higher education. …

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