Gökhan AK
Introduction: The Village Institutes’ venture of Turkey which was diligently carried out by enlightened statesmen and intellectuals in the midst of 20th century was a unique example of educational reconstruction. The foundation of the Institutes very well reflected the idea behind Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s this saying: “The real war is starting now. The real war is the struggle which will be given in education, culture, economy and modernization.” While it seems as if a national attempt, it actually embodies an international aspect since the Institutes adopted a universal approach and perspective in education. In line with this perspective, the Turkish Village Institutes movement had represented a sound educational understanding that struggled to diminish societal injustices and increase human freedom and gender equality by advocating mind enlightenment. The formers of this educational movement believed that lasting social changes could come about only through long-term educational processes. All those intellectual pioneers who realized the Village Institutes movement in Turkey during 1930s and 1940s put into practice their belief in modern education via reconstructional thought and action. The main rationale behind these Institutes was to enable a generation of rural teenagers, boys and girls, become literate and articulate. They learned about modern technology, joined mainstream of their country, and became politically conscious. Although the Village Institutes were closed by a more conservative government in the 1950s, a whole stream of Turkish writers and social reformers still trace their origins to these institutions, because the Institutes achieved a valuable delineation in the way to re-catch harmony with nature by de-alienating illiterate, meager and sheepish minds of those Anatolian teenagers. The Village Institutes also provided training in the modern farming techniques, carpentry, health, music, architecture, arts and sports areas apart from teaching reading and writing. These all activities would thus enable the development of the villages and the villagers of the Anatolia. Purpose: This study aims to examine the understanding of pedagogy, which was put into practice in the Village Institutes as an example of liberatory education, associating it with the critical pedagogy. Content: The content of this research is the Village Institutes of Turkey and their educational reconstructional roles in the early Republic’s enlightenment. Limitations: In this study, there is no limitation to be specified. Methodology: The research method of this study is based upon secondary data resources such as scientific books, articles, essays, thesis and reports in line with the qualitative method, and in the study, content, document and discourse analysis as well as deconstruction research methods will be used. Findings: The Village Institutes were opened in 17 April 1940in order to promote the literacy, to re-catch harmony with nature for the poor Anatolian people, and to raise, in short time, the rate of reading and writing especially in the rural areas. Due to the difficult economic situation at the first decades of the young Republic, the state aimed to run these schools with minimum cost. Instead of constructing new schools building and classrooms, the state aimed at meeting all these needs with the help of villagers, teachers and students. As the teachers were paid very little, they had to make a living by working in other fields such as gardening and working in the yards. Instead of a theoretical education in classroom, the students of these schools had an applied education program including arts, architecture, gardening, health, music and theatre. This educational approach was the main step to accomplish in reviving the harmony with nature, because this was in direct line with the nature of human being. Thus, the engagement of the teenager students in the works such as construction and gardening voiced serious criticisms from the conservatives, particularly in the government. The debate on the Village Institutes began with the opening of these schools and continued until today’s Turkey around dichotomies such as urbanite/peasant, left/right, revolutionary/counter-revolutionist. Conclusion: By the establishment of the Institutes, for the people who once changed the nature had commenced a process of improvement of transforming and developing themselves. With the contribution of that civilization run invoked by the Institutes, Turkish villagers tried to indicate one of the most attractive example of transforming from being an obedient ‘server’ or ‘serfdom’ into free-thinking individuals. Another conclusion we reached in our study is that the Village Institutes had been established targeting to carry modernization endeavors of the young Republic to the rural environments. In this frame, the Institutes had achieved quite many in taking farming education to the country-side, establishment of new agricultural tools and thus enabling a modern farming in the villages.

Anahtar Kelimeler: Education, Modern Turkey, Educational Reconstruction, Village Institutes, Art and Culture, Secular Education