Show me your phone!

Generation Z, which refuses to define themselves by a single identity, finds this school system limited by the government’s motivation to build a new national identity. The poor agenda imposed by digital immigrants on this generation, the natives of the internet age into which they were born, has no long-term value.


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Ayse Alan

I intend to start this article by saying that all generalizations are wrong. Because I am aware that to define any social group in a reductive way, even according to age, is in fact to ignore the different layers of society.

However, if we approach it interrogatively, generational studies are valuable in that they show us the historical counterparts of socio-political and economic conditions and allow us to understand the needs and wants of different age groups while looking the present.

By evoking Generation Z, it is possible to go beyond the “careless”, “egocentric”, “apolitical” or even “ignorant” type of comments that we often encounter on social networks, without falling into the trap of shorthand, and to think by asking the question of what historical social conditions this generation is. I will try to address this issue within the framework of the educational policies of our country.

The test of those born cordless with seizures

Gen Z is roughly defined as people born after 2000. Their most distinctive characteristics would be their growth with the internet and digital technology. This generation has almost never used the landline telephone, never experienced any means of communication other than the Internet such as letters, postcards and telegrams. Gen Z kids have grown up in a time when print versions of newspapers and magazines have become irrelevant.

Generation Z in Turkey also started life as children of the AKP Three Child Policy period. Over the past three years, a pandemic has added to the global experience of this generation, which is supposed to be numbers in population policies, cheap workers in economic policies and religious followers in educational policies.

Especially in this period when the crisis has deepened, they have tried to fight against severe poverty, their hope for the future has been exhausted and they have lowered their expectations of school. . As we frequently encounter on social networks, these young people, who are exposed to comments of “don’t complain, go out and show your phone”, are labeled as “spoiled children who do not get tired of what they have ” in addition to all the economic, social and physical difficulties brought by the period.

So much so that even a high school student who recently complained in a street interview that “I can’t even afford a test book, I want to prepare for the exam, I can’t” was exposed to similar comments. You can access hundreds of content related to Gen Z and phone brand with a short internet browsing.

A generation more open to differences

At this point, I would like to remind you that it is necessary to take a closer look at the culture of this generation. They were born into the Internet world. They are aware of a cultural globality, albeit in different ways. They can see people in different parts of the world, communicate, meet in music, art, games, sports. It is a fact that they are more liberal in spirit and more open to different identities, despite the authoritarian policies to which they are exposed and the imposition of educational policies, which is one of its reflections. That’s why they don’t want to define themselves by setting certain boundaries or constricting them into a single identity.

For the reasons I listed above, “Why is the link between life and school so disconnected?” They ask more questions. This is precisely why they realize that they are being ignored by ignoring that the telephone says “showing this interest” is for them a means of acquiring information, a source of information, a tool for socialization, a tool for art, a means to access to know the world and much more.

The meaning they attach to communication, the way they socialize, the emotional representations with lots of emoji are the world in which they can express themselves easily. They cannot find the answer to their thoughts in a school structure that has such clear boundaries and is full of impositions. The current education system lags far behind the needs and desires of this generation, both in terms of content, i.e. curriculum, and school setting.

Educational policy of the past 20 years

Since coming to power in 2002, the AKP has made many structural changes in education, big and small. The group that was exposed to all these changes was Generation Z. With the introduction of the 4+4+4 system in 2012, Generation Z, who started school at 66 months, were high school students at 9 years, began taking compulsory religion classes from the 4th year, and took religion classes for two hours a week until the end of the year, i.e. for nine years.

These are the children who could not take this course because the course on human rights and democracy was removed from the curriculum, but who did not attend an imam hatip high school, but took courses such as “The Holy Quran, Life of Prophet Muhammad”, which have been imposed as compulsory electives within the broad band of electives. They are the ones enrolling in imam hatip schools presented to them as the only option with their LGS score due to the secondary school system being turned upside down.

Let’s talk data; Between 2012 and 2017, the number of imam hatip high schools increased from 537 to 1,485, and the number of students attending these schools increased from 268,000 to 503,000. During the period 2016-2017, the total number of he students studying in the middle and high school departments of imam hatip schools increased to 1 million 291 thousand 426. When the AKP came to power, this number was 71 thousand 100.

The same government also attributed “special” importance to private schools. It paved the way for increasing the number of private schools by supporting private educational institutions through financial incentive schemes. Unable to provide fair, equal and qualified education, which is one of its most important duties as a social state, it has transferred this task to the private sector with complete peace of mind.
No other generation in the history of the Republic of Turkey has been as exposed to religious education policies as Generation Z. These policies, which manifest themselves in the triangle of more compulsory religion classes, more religious classes electives and younger religion courses, are at the center of these policies, while provincial and district mufti are located at the periphery. This periphery also manifests itself through certain projects under the name of “values” education or direct practices such as memory training programs, which this generation frequently encounters in education.

A generation that can create its own program

On the other hand, by emphasizing that a student receives training in philosophy for 2 years throughout his schooling, let’s say that the other courses, courses, classroom practices, memorization and exams are not very encouraging. What is the level of scientific culture in science lessons? Take for example the subject “the beginning of life and evolution”, which was removed from the school curriculum in 2017. Is there room for their creativity in art classes? To what extent are children aware that learning a new language is the way to open doors to different cultures? Can courses in disciplines such as math and physics be used for purposes other than taking exams?
Beyond all that, how many of those long years are mentally “liberated” children who spend most of their lives in school? Or are they afraid of what they are going to tell or remind us of?

Generation Z, which refuses to define themselves by a single identity, finds this school system limited by the government’s motivation to build a new national identity. The poor agenda imposed by digital immigrants on this generation, which is the generation of internet natives in which they were born, i.e. digital natives, has no long term value. . They realize that neither compulsory education nor university can meet their needs. They create their own curriculum.

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