Monday, May 29, 2017

Turkish Ultra-Nationalist Education Produces Soldier-Students

The Turkish anthropologist, Ayşe Gül Altınay, is a good source on the militarist, virulent, Turkish education system. If anyone has interacted with the typical Turk in real life or online, one will wonder where their renowned fanaticism comes from. Well she partly answers it in her works. 

Bianet: Turk-Soldier-Muslim: The Ideal Student

"The ideal student, according to the education system in Turkey, is the student who looks at the world with a nationalist mentality, who defines him or herself as 'a Turk' based on ethnicity, and who is a soldier-student, ready to fight."

Presenting a paper titled "Who is a good Turk?: The 'Ideal' student according to Textbooks" at the "International Human Rights Education and TextBook Research Symposium" held last weekend, Assistant Professor Ayse Gul Altinay from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Sabanci University, tackled this issue.
Another important characteristic of the "ideal" Turkish student in textbooks is being a "soldier-student." By extension, this ideal student, or the first-class citizen is basically a man.

Here, military service is defined as a cultural given and students are told that they will not be of any good to themselves, their families or their nation if they do not serve in the military. Under this definition, military service is no longer a citizenship obligation for male citizens. It is taken out of the political/legal framework, and is used in a social and cultural framework, which defines a person's life, and his relations with his family and environment.

The discourse about Turks being a "military-nation" underlies this argument and it naturalizes dying, killing and thus, violence.

Almost all excerpts reflect a homogenous nation that represents a "single race" and a single culture. Saying there are different "races" within one nation is defined as "separatism."

The general view in these textbooks is that, the Turkish nation is a homogenous nation with a single ethnicity. Thus the books ignore the diversity in Turkey and see every kind of diversity as an element of "threat."

Ayşe Gül Altınay went on to produce a related book that deals with this subject further:

In Turkey, the mandatory military course taught in high schools by military officers remains one of the most significant sites where the interdependencies between education and defense are established and naturalized. Taught under different names in different periods (Military Service, Preparation for Military Service, National Defense Knowledge, and National Security Knowledge), the military course has been in the curriculum of high schools since 1926. Currently, it is called National Security Knowledge and is mandatory for all students (male and female) in the second year of high school, regardless of the kind of school. ...

The most important continuity is that the course has been taught by military officers (or retired officers) who get paid by the Ministry of National Education or the school that employs them. However, neither the Ministry nor the schools have any say in the choice of these officer-teachers. The officer-teachers are appointed by the highest commander of the nearest garrison on an annual basis. ... Their qualification for teaching this course is defined solely in military terms: the most preferred category is that of staff officers (Staff Colonels, Majors, and Captains), followed by other officers ranked militarily.[5] ...

Altinay, Ayse Gul. Myth Of The Military Nation. (Palgrave, 2004; 1st Edition) p. 124.

Here is a Youtube video, Neden Hedef Türkiye(48:51), that was shown to Turkish students in those classes that teaches them to suspect neighboring countries and minorities. If anyone knows Turkish and is willing to translate please translate any section you wish in the comments.