This post briefly reviews Elife Doğan Kılıç and Özgür Önen, “Homeschooling in Turkey” in US-China Education Review B 1 (2012): 113-123. [Available here]
Kılıç, an education professor at Sinop University in Turkey, and Önen, an education professor at Akif Ersoy University also in Turkey, here present the results of a survey of 20 Turkish teachers as to the viability of homeschooling in the Turkish context.
They begin with a cursory orientation to the phenomenon of homeschooling, based largely on U.S. secondary sources from the late 1990s and early 2000s, noting that there has to date been no scholarship at all on homeschooling in Turkey. According to Kılıç and Önen, Turkish law currently only permits home-based learning for students whose physical handicaps make it impossible for them to attend traditional schools. They also note that many rural families keep their daughters out of schools for religious and moral reasons.
The authors chose to interview twenty classroom teachers in the Turkish public education system to get their opinions about the possible expansion of homeschooling to other populations than children with disabilities. They chose 10 male and 10 female teachers. Ten of the teachers were “classroom teachers,” which in the Turkish system means early elementary grades, or what they call the “first step,” and ten were “branch teachers,” who work with slightly older children in the “second step” of primary school. These teachers were broken into four focus groups and asked the following questions: 1. What is homeschooling? 2: What are the advantages of homeschooling? 3. What are the disadvantages of homeschooling? and 4. Can home schooling be carried out in Turkey? Each of the four focus groups answered these questions in very similar fashion, leading the researchers to conclude that they had pretty reliable results and that further focus groups were not necessary.
The teachers interviewed pretty much all defined homeschooling as parent-centered education, and they understood that it would mostly be the responsibility of the mother. Teachers tended to think that families who chose this option should be financially successful, with academically accomplished parents.
As for advantages, the teachers stressed how the mother could create a caring learning environment uniquely tailored to her children’s needs. It could be especially helpful for girls whose parents refuse on religious grounds to send them to school, but if it were to do so it should be heavily regulated just as government schools are to insure that these girls are getting a good education. Teachers also praised the flexibility in scheduling it would allow and its pedagogical freedom as compared to the machine-like system imposed on children in the public schools.
As for negatives, some teachers expressed concerns that homeschooled students might not learn the civic values Turkey wants all citizens to possess, especially values respecting the rights of all people. They feared that homeschooling could be a way certain, especially ethnic or religiously radical, elements of the population might foster more radicalism, thus threatening the public good.
For this reason, and because of the family’s loss of female income that would result, teachers on the whole were not optimistic that homeschooling would increase any time soon in Turkey.
Kılıç and Önen conclude by suggesting that the Turkish government should begin pilot programs in certain districts to test out homeschooling to see if it would be helpful and to work out possible legal procedures that would maximize its benefits and minimize its drawbacks.
It’s gratifying to see a first foray into homeschooling research among Turkish scholars. Kılıç and Önen’s English is a little choppy, and the decision to limit their focus groups to government school teachers seems odd to me. I personally would have appreciated more coverage of how the home education of handicapped children is done in Turkey and more about what happens with these rural girls whose parents don’t send them to school. But it’s helpful to be informed about the basic legal situation in Turkey, about which, prior to reading this article, I knew nothing.