The Phenomenon of Peace in the Social Studies Curriculum in Turkey and Greece

The Phenomenon of Peace in the Social Studies Curriculum in Turkey and Greece

Oğuzhan Karadeniz (Bülent Ecevit University, Turkey) and Beytullah Kaya (Bülent Ecevit University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6433-3.ch019
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In this chapter, the phenomenon of peace in the social studies curriculum is examined in the context of Turkey and Greece. The formation of the social studies curriculum and conceptual changes in programs in Turkey related with Greece is investigated. The studies that have been initiated after World Wars to prevail the perception of peace in Social Studies and History lessons are reviewed. The current status of the curriculum shows an attempt put forward by examining historically the studies initiated by UNESCO after World War II in order to eliminate the phenomenon of hostility in the textbooks which also include Turkey and Greece. Due to the nature of the study described in this chapter, the method of scanning was used. As a result of the study, it has been observed that the phenomenon of peace hasn't been given enough space, but there have been obvious positive regulations than those in the past. In this context, a continuation of the studies related with the phenomenon of peace which are included in the curriculum is suggested.
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Textbooks are not only a source of what the students will learn and what the teachers will teach in teaching-learning process, but they have also great importance in that school programs have also undertaken the individuals’ social, political, economic development so that they can fulfill the functions (Tertemiz, Ercan & Kayabaşı, 2001, pp. 1–2). When looked at from this perspective, it is expected to be a tool in which textbooks can respect human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as the students’ personality development (Power & Allison, 2000).

According to Pekmezci (1996) visual materials which are a part of the textbooks’ content have a place and importance in children’s lives, the book illustrations which are visualizations have an important place in addition to the essential theoretical knowledge in school textbooks. The pictures, graphics, text, drawings, photographs, cartoons and, presentations, etc which take place in this book are important elements that show the child's tastes and the ability to choose, the contrasts of beautiful-ugly, positive-negative, artistic -non-artistic and effect to settle into the subconscious as an element of visual and perceptual training. Artistic nature of these items will provide multifaceted perspective to topics, issues, events, formations in the children, to life, and social relations and and most importantly will provide a sensitivity (p. 147). When looked at from this perspective, the knowledge given in textbooks can either evoke the emotions of “peace” or create a sense of hostility in both the community and inter-communal setting. At this point, the concept of peace is becoming an important issue which must be focused on. Literally, peace is defined as case of the absence of war in the country. In other words, it indicates the situations of a state before the war and after the peace treaty. As a legal definition, “international peace is re-establishment of relations of friendship between states which are at the war against each other” (Bayat, 1985, p. 74). Peace; is a gained condition when every individual fulfills all the responsibilities which he/she owns in order that all the other individuals can get fully their own rights. Peace is the response process to conflict and differences indulgently and flexibly (Schrumpf, Crawford & Bodine, 2007, p. 164).

Turks and Greeks who are the subject of research are close communities to each other with both customs and traditions and social norms. Despite this, they exclude the others and put them near the ones who are different while both communities are creating national identities. Another condition that applies to Greece and Turkey is that both societies see everybody except for themselves as “another” and are their national loneliness. This statements can be the most beautiful examples for this: while Turkish people say that “Turks don’t have any friends except for Turks,” Greek people say that “Greeks are a nation who don’t have any brothers (İ Elas ine ethnos anadelfon).” For this reason, the two communities do not trust anyone except themselves and they always perceive the other one as a threat or enemy (Özsüer, 2012, pp. 271-272).

The Greeks were one of the nations who rebelled first in the Ottoman Empire and started the demolition of the state from inside. In later historical periods, the Greeks are perceived as a threat to Turkey about the issues of Cretan rebellion, the Balkan Wars, the occupation of Anatolia and Cyprus issues. It is a fact that situation isn’t different for Greece. Turkey, as descendants of the Ottoman Empire, was always perceived in the form of a threat. Of course, there are ancillary elements which help the formation of this perception, and don’t allow change by taking permanent situations (Özsüer, 2012, p. 279). At this point, text books are fulfilling an important function, as we can give examples about these elements such as schools, families and media ... etc. When viewed from this perspective, it is also very important to establish the extent to which the peace phenomenon is covered in the Social Studies curriculum in Turkey and Greece.

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