Considering that I have left more than half of my assistantship period behind me, I believe I can underline a few basic differences between Polish and Turkish educational systems. Learning the Polish way and blending its beneficial aspects into my future career as a teacher was one of the main reasons of me wanting to participate in this programm. As I superficially indicated in my last post, there are no ‘game changing’ big differences between them. I though about its reason for some time and the most logical explanation I could think of was that Gimnazjum nr. 2 was one of the common schools and as an unexperienced teacher and a member of an upper-mid class family, I’ve spent my whole life in common schools. My definition of ‘common schools’ in this context refers to those schools demanding no spectacular amounts of money in return of a whole new level of education quality. These are the public schools majority of our populations go, hence we all know how their system works. I didn’t expect huge differences when it comes to teaching approaches or overall student managament methods used in the schools. Approaches are international and the ones we supposed to use in this century are the ones proven good by experiences of last centuries.
The biggest difference between two systems is the amount of years students study. In my country after 8 years of primary-secondary education students start high schools and spend 4 years in these schools. Until immediate past we had divided primary and secondary education (5+3) but now they’re combined. Here in Poland, students start Gimnazjums after the first phase of their education and spend 3 years in these. They are taking an exam at the end of their Gimnazjum education and go to high schools where they have to study 2 more years. After high school, university starts. As far as I know, their success is a plays a great role at determining on which universities they can go. In Turkey, students take have to take university entrance exam in order to start a university and their success level has a minor effect on this matter. They can easily finish their high schools without being a successful students or having good grades but they can still have the right to choose best universities if their university exam point fits to their minimum expectations. And if they fail to get enough points to go their dream university or department, they have right to wait as many years as they want until they get what point they want. I’ve been told that it’s impossible to go upper quality universities for students whose grades have been below average grader throughtout their school years but I’m not convinced yet. I’ll ask about this more and get a precise answer.
Now for some in-school differences, for starters, the students in Gimnazjm nr. 2 are not wearing uniforms. As person who had to wear a tie and ugly gray fabric pants for 4 years in high school, I envy them on this matter. However, I’m well aware that the sociological aspect of this matter is the biggest reason why uniforms are still obligatory in most of the Turkish schools. There has been an argument over the students’ teenage hearts since my childhood and many people say that wearing same clothes over and over in a uniform-free school can hurt their feelings because some families just can’t afford to buy brand new clotes for every day of the week. As this argument has been going on for a long time and still has no concrete solution, I’ll drop it here. I’m just letting interested parties know the reason behind this uniform rule.
Here, the students have also lockers and their own entrance to school. They use their entrance when they arrive to the school, leave their stuff in the locker located in the basement and move in the school without having to carry their burden. As far as I know, we don’t have a similar system in my country. Students carry their rucksacks wherever they go.
Another thing is, after each lesson, classes move to another one related to their next lesson. They have classes for every lesson. This praxis is new in Turkey and not many schools use this. When I was in highschool, every class had their own classroom and had been spending their whole day in them. Teachers were moving between different classes instead of students. Luckily, the authorities saw the need of a system like this and trying to apply this in every school nowadays. It’ll take some time to get used to it though.
Lastly, a topic majority might find insignificant but I couldn’t help mentioning. In Turkish schools, we a ceremonies in every morning and in the end of Fridays. In the mornings, all of the students gather together in school’s garden and repeats an oath called ‘Students’ Oath’. In this oath, they say things like ‘we are students, we are hard-working, we are the future, we will behave really good, we will not disappoint our country, we will do our best to become good individuals etc.’ And after schools on Fridays, they gather together again and sing our national anthem. For me, this ceremonies are nothing but waste of time and encourages monotony among students but not many people thinks the same as me. I’ve made my point anyway.
When it comes to general student attitude in school, I see no difference. I only see teenagers trying to have some fun and it makes me feel good that they are having good time. The students in Turkey acts the same way as the Polish students, because they’re teenagers and no matter where they live or what they believe, they share more or less the same life styles.
It’s getting late and I should prepare some material for tomorrow’s lessons. I’m leaving for now but I’ll be back soon with exclusive news from Gimnazjum nr. 2.