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Olcay Kirisoglu

Em. Prof. of Art Education
World Councilor
InSEA - International Society for Education Through Art

Mustafa Kemal Üniversitesi
Güzel Sanatlar Fakültesi
31040 Antakya - HATAY / TURKEY

Art Education in Turkey
Although Turkey has generally been following the same line with other countries, the different social, cultural, historical background and political situation caused some differences in cultural education in Turkey.

Despite our rich background, we need to mention some inadequacies in the present situation of art education in Turkey. This is definitely not due to the lack of qualified art teachers, but because of the gap between the educational sector and the cultural sector in art and art education. They both have individual dynamics, objectives, and ideals that in practice lead to very different ends.

The time spent for art
In our school system, in primary and secondary level, 1 or 2 class hours arts (music, visual arts, drama) weekly take place in the programme. Craft is added to the programme in secondary level (3 class hours weekly)separately.

In high schools (Lycee-15-18 years old), the first year art is compulsory subject, the second and the third year is optional. The pupils can take either art or music. In some schools, in which arts is a major subject, pupils take art class more than the ordinary schools.

There are the art high schools for pupils with special ability in arts. During their school years, besides their academic subjects, the pupils study art and music including art history, art criticism, aesthetic, and art studio.

  • To learn art as a part of their culture
  • To develop aesthetic sensitivity towards art object as well as nature.
  • To be creative in making art and develop creative thinking behaviour.
  • To develop interpretative thinking and, value judgement
  • To learn how to transfer materials into expressive media.

In spite of all nice comments written in the book mentioned above, the classroom situation is different.

The class hours for art are too short. 45-90 minutes per week is not enough to teach, to learn and to enjoy art.

The overcrowded classes, lack of art rooms, shortage of materials are some problems waiting to be sold in most schools (except some private schools).

The private schools provide more creative atmosphere. They join in international project in art education. National and international projects attract the others, thus, those projects have been welcomed by different schools; such as, Global Neighborhood Project, Darussafaka, Istanbul, and New York 2004, Commenious Project Bilkent Schools participated in.

Increasing the range of cultural activities available
In spite of the new art forms such as film, photography, fashion design, and computer art, visual arts and music have still priority in schools, except private schools and some state schools as mentioned before.

Since 1970s, drama has been added to the curriculum in state schools ( optional subject) and private schools.

Some civil organisation, like drama association, forces the Minister of Education, to insert "drama" into the curriculum of primary and secondary schools as compulsory subject.

The practice of in-school art and cultural education
In addition to traditional teaching and learning (procedure) activities in schools, the pupils, as a class or individually, are taken to museums, art galleries, theatres, and concerts quite often. There are also private art courses almost in every city for pupils and children with special ability in art and music. These courses are mostly organized by the Ministry of Culture, the N.G.Os or by individuals.

On the other hand, some organisations, like "Drama Clubs" or "Contemporary life Organization" and some foundations, with their artist members provide projects for children, organize school visits, talk to pupils, give lectures in order to widen the horizon of cultural education in different cities and also in rural areas.

Some activities and projects that have been supported and realised by NGOs,museums, universities are:

"Activate Museums for Educational Purposes" Marmara University, Y1ld1z Technical University, Museum Education Programme. Theme: Time and Place, Istanbul through the ages.

"Virtual Museum Educational Project" Eczac1ba_1

"Euromed Heritage II programme" Supported by TEMBER(Training, Education, Management and Prehistory in the Mediterranean).

"In-Service Teacher Training Programme" Designing the programme to preserve the cultural heritage.

"Art on the Street" Workshop with children: 2003-2004

"Art Education for Children at Risk in the street". This project has been carried out by the Art Museum Association and supported by the
Foundation of the rehabilitation of Children and Youth at Risk.

"Environmental Education through Art"
The last projects were supported by Daru__afaka Education Group in Istanbul.
"Project of Haghia Sophia":Gift to Humanity. Organised by private ENKA Schools.
"Children Workshops with 210 Children and 60 young students; print making studios. Organised by the" Social, Cultural Life Development Association".
"Children Sculpture Workshops "Koman Foundation in Istanbul. 2005.
Although this interactions occur irregularly, limited and in local, provide great opportunity for children and youth in developing understanding towards art ,cultural heritage, environmental aesthetic.

Professionals and professionalisation in cultural education
The Faculties of Education in Turkey have overtaken the arts specialists training. There are 22 Art Education Departments attached to the Faculty of Education. The main purpose of those art education departments is to train prospective art teachers. There is a contrast between the high number of graduate art teachers and the lack of time allocated to art in schools.

However, these departments in time gradually deviated from its main goal. In the programmes, the emphasise has been given to the artistic side of training. As a result, the balance between artistic and teaching professional training was destroyed.

In 1996, after the National Education Development Project, the Art teacher training was redesigned and drawn back to its primary purposes: Art Teaching Profession. The main line of the new approach:

  • To upgrade the facilities of the faculty of education
  • To provide fellowship for faculties of education
  • To establish objectives and prepare a curriculum for the methodology courses in a number of subject areas, and to link those courses with the preparation of teachers in schools.

Of course, it will take time for dissemination of this new approach.

In elementary level, the classroom teachers teach art, except for some private schools at which they could afford to employ art education specialist.

The classroom teachers always complain about their lack of artistic ability and education as well. They hardly show any inclination to solve the problems of teaching art. Their expectation is some practical information like in "how to do books".

Training and education of other staff, such as museum educators, art specialists working in cultural centres are another aim of art and cultural education in Turkey. The museum education is a new subject in art education in Turkey.

The role, the expertise of museum educators is limited to provide opportunity to show the art works to visitors. With the establishment of meaningful relations between schools, universities and cultural institutions cause positive development will be provided. Museum Education Association has become trying to help this interaction.

Supply and demand for in-school cultural education
Teaching and learning arts in schools mostly depend on materials and visual aids. Because, arts are still periphery in schools, the administrators hardly persuade the producer company to produce art materials. On the other hand, the supporting bodies and the producers, from time to time, visit the schools and exhibit their productions. This may be will help the schools to revise the curriculum for better art education in future. Since, the schools do not provide the materials, in some areas the pupils have difficulty in supplying the different materials for economical reasons. This is another handicap for art education.

Art and Cultural education, school type and school climate
Different factors affect the art and cultural education in schools.
In Turkey, the art teacher's individual effort is still the primary factor in cultural education.

In spite of some negative approach of administrators, other subject teachers and also some parents towards arts education, and the economic, physical handicap in schools, arts teachers do their best to provide the cultural climate in schools.

The second factor is the location of schools. If the school is located in a wealthy area, the parents persuade the school administrators for cultural education. The cultural climate is the positive factor to attract the parents.

Evaluation of in-school art and cultural education
The universities in Turkey generally conduct the evaluation research. The types of cultural educational research are:

1. Historical research
History of art education in Turkey: Before Republic (during Ottoman Empire) and Republican time.

This research is aiming at understanding the past, interpreting the present and predicting the future.

2. Descriptive research
Understanding, analysing and interpreting the present nature of art education in schools.

The different attitude towards art education, art teachers, students, parents, and administrators.

3. Qualitative Research
Some samples are as follows:

  • Microetnographic and comparative study of art education in schools.
  • Comprehensive study of art education with special reference to aesthetic.
  • Research on new technology and art education in schools.
  • Cross-cultural research in different school levels with different countries.
  • Educational Criticism, Action Research

Practices in schools:
It is difficult to refer to good and bad practices of in-school cultural education although there are always some exceptionals.
However, in general, some examples of bad practices are as follows:

1. "Laissez fair" approach as a method of teaching art in classroom situation, in another word, letting the pupils find their own ways.

This untaught freedom given to the pupils, instead of encouraging their creativity prevent them to team art as well as to enjoy art.

2. The other extreme of freedom is schematised and prescribed the activities. For example, teaching basic design without noticing the philosophy behind it, and also without relating the design exercises to other works discouraging the pupils to learn art.

3. Practising art in classrooms instead of art rooms is another handicap in art education. It is difficult to create the cultural atmosphere in classroom.

4. Limited materials and techniques provide no choice for pupils in practising art meaningfully and creatively.

Good practices are as follows:
1. Art education is not confined to only practical work any more. In recent years, the art teachers have provided a bridge between practical works and criticising art, discussing aesthetic and art history which is called contextual art education.

2. Although the prescribed curriculum stated by the Ministry of Education, have been criticised by teachers, still provide some direction that art teaching in schools take place in sequential order. This means that art education is taken seriously. '

3. Against the laissez-fair approach in teaching art, the teachers realised to be active with pupils in classrooms situation

The aim of art education should be to produce graduates and teachers who are aware of relevance of cultural policy to art education and exchange in contemporary Turkish art education both in current theory and practice. The visual arts and art education should make a move to restructure its core visual art and art education program. Curriculum programs should be put into theory and application courses in which the visual culture of Turkey plays a role alongside that a Western, and thus plays a significant part in the location and definition of contemporary Turkish culture provided for the students and teachers. In the area of theory and practice, new courses and programs should be designed to place Turkish culture not solely as part of the developed world, of which it is a part, but also as a unique characteristics of its own.

Art education still needs to develop interest in and to focus on school arts, theory ,practice and policy in Turkey.

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