Curriculum Reform and New Textbooks in Turkey: Nationalism in an Interactive Education
Sociology Istanbul Bilgi University Istanbul, Turkey
The Ministry of National Education of Turkey has undertaken a comprehensive school curriculum reform by the 2005-2006 academic years. The reform consisted of the introduction of new courses such as ?training for thinking? and new textbooks, all written on the basis of a ?student-centered approach?. The rationale behind the reform, as stated in official documents, involves an aim to adopt Turkey to the European Union on the one hand, and to the ?new information age? on the other. New textbooks, however, demonstrate that it is not easy to implement the reform in the face of Turkey?s deep-seated nationalist and essentialist political culture. This paper explores the curriculum reform based on the discursive analysis of new primary school Turkish and Life Study textbooks (grades 2-5). A close analysis of these textbooks shows that they lead teachers to employ new interactive techniques in order to make students think upon the course themes. Nevertheless the content of questions and dialogues in new textbooks is still imbued with a narrow definition of nationalism and exclusive notion of essentialism. The European Union receives no mention in textbooks. The paper argues that these new textbooks should be revised in order to achieve a genuine reform to develop open-mindedness and democratic reasoning in both teachers and pupils.