03 SES 01, Curriculum Policy Making
How Novel Can A Reform Be? The Example Of The 2004 Curriculum Reform In Turkey.
In 2002, Turkey had its first single party government after a long period. Political instability throughout the 1990's and a severe economic crisis in 2001 had left the people discontent with the regime and created a motivation towards fundamental change. The single party government, enjoying the support from large social sectors, took steps to make major changes also in the education system.
One of these changes was lead by a group of academics working for the Education Ministry, with the goal to fundamentally revise the primary school curriculum. This academic milieu was aiming to change both the content and education techniques of the previous curricula which they fully rejected with respect to its behaviourist paradigm, the central role it gave to teachers in the education process, and the type of student personality the previous curriculum aimed to create. They had alternative views.
During a certain period, between 2003 and 2006, this academic group was challenging all previous bureaucratic, organizational and educational traditions; they prepared a new curriculum, which was introduced in all Turkey's schools shortly afterwards. However, in 2006, most of these academics left the ministry. The ones replacing them first questioned the novelty of the new curriculum, and further criticized the previous group's educational approach. Although the new curriculum continued to be in use after 2006, the ministry's efforts to realize its practice in classrooms (through teacher education seminars) noticeably subsided.
In this presentation we will be studying changes in the period between 2003 and 2006, along with earlier developments and post-2006 changes. The questions we will address will be: (1) How different can a reform be that arises from within a certain system, from earlier ideas and practices? (2) When a new idea is being put into practice, how does it relate to earlier ideas and practices, and how do they compete between each other? (3) How much can a novel idea be realized within an already established system?
To answer these questions, we have conducted expert interviews and group discussions with academics and politicians who took part in the curricular reform during the 2003-2006 period (the Training and Education Council head [the organization responsible for curricular arrangement], the Minister of Education, the heads and members of commissions who developed the curricula of various classes of that period), the executives who oversaw the implementation of the new curriculum (Ministry auditors, local governors and teachers from five different schools), and with the bureaucrats who replaced the new curriculum's creators after 2006 (the new head and other executives of the Training and Education Council, and with Education Ministry bureaucrats who had witnessed both periods). These interviews were conducted between the years 2011-2013, analyzed using the Documentary Method. We interpret and generalize our results on educational reform with regard to the relationship between education and social change.
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