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Molding the republican generation: the landscapes of learning in early republican Turkey

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Zeynep Kezer


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This paper focuses on the spatial dimension of the sweeping educational reforms introduced during the early years of the Turkish Republic, by a military-bureaucratic cadre of leaders who were uncompromising in their desire to bring all schools under government control and standardize and secularize both the contents of their offerings and their administration. To date, most research about the history of educational reform in Turkey has concentrated on the implementation of legal and institutional measures. Recent studies, focusing mainly on textual analysis of instructional materials, such as curricula and textbooks, have examined how their ideologically charged content has contributed to the nation-building process. By contrast, the material culture of education has garnered relatively scant attention. With few exceptions, the actual sites of learning and the artifacts used in teaching have not been examined in significant detail even though they appear to frame just about every personal narrative. In this chapter, I address this gap by drawing attention to the crucial role of the physical environment in transforming school children into modern Turkish citizens. I examine not only what children learned, but also where and how they learned and propose that rather than serving as neutral backdrops to the process of indoctrination, the sites and tools of education systematically framed and ordered the students’ relationship with the world around them. Elementary education in Early Republican Turkey was designed expressly to train children to read the physical and visual clues in their everyday settings as markers of a radically different social and political order than that experienced by the previous generation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kezer Z

Editor(s): Gutman, M., De Coninck-Smith, N.

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Designing Modern Childhoods: History, Space, and the Material Culture of Children

Year: 2008

Pages: 128-151

Series Title: Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies

Publisher: Rutgers University Press

Place Published: Piscataway, NJ


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780813541969