TheÂ UrgencyÂ ofÂ EducationalÂ ReformÂ inÂ theÂ UnitedÂ StatesÂ ofÂ America:Â LessonsÂ Learned fromÂ FethullahÂ GÃ¼lenÂ
AsÂ anÂ AmericanÂ publicÂ school teacher,Â university professor,Â andÂ College of Education Dean,Â IÂ have experienced K16Â schoolingÂ inÂ placesÂ as diverse as NewÂ York,Â Texas,Â California,Â Kansas, and theÂ U.S.Â VirginÂ IslandsÂ overÂ the pastÂ four decades. IÂ write thisÂ paperÂ bothÂ fromÂ the heartÂ and based uponÂ theÂ authority of my researchÂ inÂ the field of bilingual/multiculturalÂ education.Â ToÂ say thatÂ the United StatesÂ of AmericaÂ isÂ facing many challengesÂ toÂ itsÂ educational systemÂ and infrastructure isÂ indeed anÂ understatement.Â Â However,Â IÂ believe thatÂ none of these challengesÂ areÂ as criticalÂ toÂ our survivalÂ as aÂ viable nation asÂ teachingÂ studentsÂ toÂ embrace theirÂ humanity as membersÂ of aÂ culturally and linguistically pluralisticÂ democracyÂ inÂ aÂ dynamically changingÂ world.Â Â Realistically,Â however,Â curricular reformÂ andÂ theÂ desired outcomesÂ of educationÂ inÂ aÂ givenÂ nation,Â isÂ dependentÂ uponÂ the economicÂ and political elitesÂ inÂ control of fundingÂ and policies. EducationÂ isÂ tied toÂ aÂ personâsÂ employmentÂ opportunities, higherÂ education completion,Â standardÂ of living, andÂ otherÂ variables. So,Â itÂ isÂ very difficultÂ toÂ imagine thatÂ aÂ nation suchÂ as theÂ United States, withÂ aÂ decentralized educationsystemÂ inÂ whichÂ eachÂ state operatesÂ itsÂ schoolsÂ independently,Â will everÂ achieve consensusÂ aboutÂ whatÂ and howÂ childrenÂ are toÂ learn.Â However,Â based uponÂ the writingsÂ and teachingsÂ of the imminentÂ TurkishÂ IslamicÂ scholarÂ andÂ philosopher,Â M. FethullahÂ GÃ¼len,Â IÂ feel compelled toÂ make the case forÂ aÂ higherÂ orderÂ of thinking toÂ pervade all educational institutionsÂ inÂ the United States.Â Â Irrespective of oneâsÂ personalÂ politics, there are truthsÂ thatÂ are selfevident.Â Â It isÂ selfevidentÂ thatÂ all studentsÂ mustÂ come toÂ recognize thatÂ we live inÂ anÂ interdependentÂ world;Â thatÂ we all mustÂ learnÂ toÂ be responsibleÂ stewardsÂ of our earth;Â thatÂ we mustÂ learnÂ toÂ respectÂ humanÂ diversity inÂ all itsÂ dimensions.Â Â Undeniably,Â we live inÂ anÂ interdependentÂ world where actionsÂ takenÂ inÂ one partÂ of the globe canÂ upsetÂ the balance of natureÂ worldwide,Â destroy ecosystems, and create social,Â economic,Â and political instability causing humanÂ suffering of catastrophicÂ proportions;Â of thisÂ we see proof daily.Â Â TheÂ transmission of pastÂ knowledge coupled withÂ the foresightÂ toÂ meetÂ the challengesÂ of the future forÂ the purpose of survival,Â allowsÂ humanÂ beingsÂ toÂ perpetuate life onÂ thisÂ planet.Â Â Ultimately,Â the essence of whatÂ we should be seeking throughÂ education isÂ wisdom.Â Â IÂ believe thatÂ we urgently need aÂ nationalÂ and international dialogue among the leaders of our education communities.
InÂ the postSeptemberÂ 11thÂ world,Â forÂ example,Â IÂ fearÂ thatÂ childrenÂ are learning toÂ have enemiesÂ based uponÂ political stereotypesÂ and propaganda. ItÂ isÂ critically importantÂ thatÂ childrenÂ learnÂ toÂ careÂ aboutÂ victimsÂ of intolerance and inhumanity and aboutÂ theÂ nowinÂ situationÂ of war,Â inÂ general.Â Reflecting deeply aboutÂ suchÂ issuesÂ should be partÂ of every studentâsÂ curriculum.Â Â Some available teaching resourcesÂ canÂ be found atÂ
.Â (Kohn,Â 2001,Â p.2)
ToÂ my understanding and interpretation of the worksÂ of M.Â FethullahÂ GÃ¼len,Â education should notÂ be aboutÂ fillingÂ theÂ mindsÂ and heartsÂ of childrenÂ as one mightÂ empty vessels, butÂ toÂ nurture theirÂ humanity,Â theirÂ spirit,Â and theirÂ innate intelligence toÂ propel our globalÂ interrelated societiesÂ towardÂ peace,Â justice,Â and prosperity.Â Â GÃ¼lenÂ (2002) states:Â
âThe mainÂ duty and purposeÂ of human life isÂ toÂ seek understanding.Â The effortÂ of doing so,Â knownÂ asÂ education,Â isÂ a perfecting processÂ throughÂ whichÂ we earn,Â inÂ the spiritual,Â intellectual,Â and physicalÂ dimensionsÂ of theirÂ beingsÂ the rank appointed toÂ usÂ asÂ the perfectÂ patternÂ of creation.âÂ (p.Â 58)Â
There areÂ many thinkersÂ and writersÂ worldwide whoÂ spread their influence throughÂ theirÂ words,Â butÂ very rare,Â indeed,Â are those whose influence motivatesÂ othersÂ toÂ higherÂ planesÂ of understandingÂ and toÂ positive action.Â Â InÂ PearlsÂ of Wisdom,Â Mr.Â GÃ¼lenÂ (1997) states:Â
ThoseÂ whoÂ wantÂ toÂ secureÂ theirÂ future should apply asÂ muchÂ energy toÂ raising theirÂ children asÂ they devoteÂ toÂ otherÂ problems.Â While the energy devotedÂ toÂ many otherÂ thingsÂ may goÂ inÂ vain,Â whateverÂ isÂ spentÂ forÂ raising aÂ young generationÂ elevatesÂ themÂ toÂ the rank of humanity.Â SuchÂ peopleÂ willÂ be like anÂ inexhaustible source of income.Â (p.37)Â
Those wordsÂ of advice provide aÂ windowÂ toÂ the world of GÃ¼lenâsÂ thinking aboutÂ the importance of the investmentÂ inÂ childrenÂ andÂ youthÂ to aÂ nationâsÂ future.Â IÂ have since learned muchÂ more aboutÂ the positive influence and extentÂ of hisÂ inspired vision.Â For example,Â TheÂ JournalistsÂ and WritersÂ Foundation,Â the parentÂ organizationÂ of the InterculturalÂ Dialogue Platform,Â isÂ inspiringÂ interfaithÂ dialoguesÂ and peace andÂ understandingÂ worldwide.Â Â MultitudesÂ of schoolsÂ based uponÂ GÃ¼leninspired educationalÂ philosophy are springing up worldwide.Â While these institutionsÂ are notÂ founded orÂ run by him,Â hisÂ educationalÂ philosophy servesÂ asÂ the foundation andÂ motivating force behind these efforts.Â Â ItÂ isÂ estimated thatÂ thereÂ areÂ suchÂ institutionsÂ inÂ many placesÂ worldwide.Â Â These include schoolsÂ inÂ centralÂ AsianÂ TurkicÂ republics, inÂ the formerÂ SovietÂ Union: Kazakhstan,Â Kyrgyzstan,Â Turkmenistan,Â Uzbekistan,Â theÂ Balkans, SouthEastÂ Asia, Africa, Russia,Â EasternÂ Europe,Â Australia, and the United States. Some schoolsÂ inÂ UzbekistanÂ were closed dueÂ toÂ aÂ political riftÂ betweenÂ Turkey and thatÂ country;Â however,Â othersÂ are still functioningÂ there.Â ItÂ isÂ believed thatÂ there are aboutÂ 700Â GÃ¼leninspired schoolsÂ throughoutÂ theÂ world.Â (Woodhall,Â 2005;Â CentralÂ Asia:Â FethullahÂ GÃ¼lenâsÂ Missionary Schools,Â 2002).Â
Desiring toÂ contribute toÂ educationalÂ reformÂ inÂ the United States,Â IÂ believe thatÂ thereÂ areÂ lessonsÂ toÂ be learned fromÂ theÂ worksÂ of FethullahÂ GÃ¼lenÂ thatÂ can,Â and should specifically,Â be applied toÂ schoolsÂ inÂ America.Â Â Obviously,Â many of the GÃ¼leninspired schoolsÂ and academiesÂ are private institutionsÂ thatÂ canÂ expel studentsÂ whoÂ doÂ notÂ meetÂ theÂ expected standards. TwoÂ of these private schoolsÂ are BrooklynÂ Amity School (
)Â and PioneerÂ School inÂ NewÂ York.Â Â Nevertheless,Â IÂ believe thatÂ all publicÂ schools, including publicÂ charterÂ schoolsÂ servingÂ aÂ diversity of students, canÂ benefitÂ fromÂ theÂ prototype andÂ the philosophicalÂ underpinningsÂ of GÃ¼leninspired schools.Â
There areÂ fourÂ aspects, inÂ particular,Â thatÂ urgently need toÂ be infused intoÂ AmericanÂ schooling:Â Interfaith/intercultural dialogue,Â characterÂ education,Â parentalÂ involvementÂ and education,Â and the integrationÂ of science and spirituality.Â Â Many AmericanÂ schoolsÂ have beenÂ incorporating some of these aspects, butÂ there still isÂ aÂ lotÂ of work toÂ do.Â
CharacterÂ education has beenÂ attempted toÂ help studentsÂ become betterÂ citizensÂ and aÂ positive influence inÂ theirÂ society.Â (ReferÂ to:
forÂ resourcesÂ and links).Â Â Nevertheless, statistics fromÂ the NationalÂ Crime Survey reportÂ thatÂ âalmostÂ 3 millionÂ crimesÂ occurÂ onÂ orÂ nearÂ school campusesÂ every year; thatâsÂ 16,000Â perÂ school day,Â or one every 6Â seconds. AÂ recentÂ study onÂ domesticÂ violence found thatÂ many highÂ school boysÂ thoughtÂ itÂ was all rightÂ forÂ aÂ boy toÂ strike hisÂ girlfriend if she angered himâ (WhatÂ makesÂ kidsÂ care?Â p.Â 1).Â ParentsÂ and family mustÂ be anÂ integralÂ partÂ of studentsâÂ livesÂ atÂ school as well as atÂ home.Â However,Â thisÂ isÂ simply notÂ the case forÂ millionsÂ of latchkey students,Â studentsÂ withÂ parentsÂ inÂ prison,Â underage parents, orÂ those whoÂ live withÂ aged grandparentsÂ or brothersÂ and sisters.Â Â SevereÂ social issuesÂ affecting many of our nationsâÂ youthÂ eventually winds up inÂ the lapsÂ of AmericaâsÂ teachers, principals,Â and otherÂ publicÂ servants. Hence,Â the contributionsÂ of GÃ¼lenâsÂ commitmentÂ toÂ investÂ inÂ and promote excellence inÂ education should serve asÂ aÂ model forÂ the publicÂ sectorÂ asÂ well as the private.Â
While recently published resultsÂ of aÂ U.S.Â Department of Education study,Â the National AssessmentÂ of Educational Progress, indicated thatÂ studentsÂ inÂ publicÂ schoolsÂ inÂ the U.S.Â âdoÂ as well orÂ betterÂ inÂ some categoriessuchÂ asÂ 4thÂ grade mathasÂ studentsÂ inÂ private school â¦Â whenÂ scoresÂ areÂ adjusted forÂ socioeconomics,Â race,Â andÂ otherÂ characteristicsÂ (Zehr,Â 2006,Â p.1).Â However,Â whenÂ looking closerÂ asÂ whatÂ isÂ being measured and whatÂ the âbestÂ practicesâÂ are forÂ attaining highÂ scores, only quantitative data aboutÂ subjectÂ matterÂ isÂ accumulated.Â Â NothingÂ isÂ mentioned aboutÂ qualitative variablesÂ havingÂ toÂ doÂ withÂ the affective domain,Â racial attitudes,Â characterÂ development,Â humanÂ relations, intercultural protocolÂ and the like,Â (Viadero,Â 2006,Â pp.Â 12).Â
EducationÂ isÂ indeed our collective hope forÂ spiritualÂ enlightenmentÂ andÂ intellectualÂ developmentÂ forÂ our humanÂ family.Â Â Ideally schooling canÂ offerÂ people of all ages,Â races, cultures, religions, creeds, language groups,Â national origins, genders, socioeconomicÂ levels,Â handicappingÂ conditionsÂ and all,Â aÂ safeÂ havenÂ toÂ come togetherÂ underÂ the âflagâ of intellectual and spiritualÂ freedomÂ toÂ explore the meaningsÂ of our life and forge ourÂ dreamsÂ forÂ aÂ brighterÂ tomorrowÂ forÂ ourselvesÂ and our progeny.Â Â FamiliesÂ withÂ childrenÂ inÂ publicÂ or private school mustÂ care aboutÂ and look intoÂ whatÂ theirÂ childrenÂ areÂ actually learning aboutÂ theÂ dimensionsÂ of theirÂ humanity,Â notÂ only cognitive subjectsÂ thatÂ canÂ be easily memorized andÂ regurgitated onÂ anÂ examination.Â
ForÂ example,Â weÂ should all be concerned aboutÂ whatÂ childrenÂ learnÂ aboutÂ their ownÂ and eachÂ otherâsÂ cultures, historical strugglesÂ andÂ contributionsÂ toÂ humanity.Â Â WhatÂ do childrenÂ inÂ America, forÂ example,Â learnÂ aboutÂ theirÂ ownÂ selfworth,Â theirÂ dignity,Â andÂ theÂ worth and dignity of others?Â Â Do our childrenÂ learnÂ toÂ communicate acrossÂ racialÂ and cultural barriers? Do they learnÂ toÂ see throughÂ the stereotypes, myths, and attitudesÂ perpetuated throughoutÂ our national history aboutÂ the value of culturalÂ and linguisticÂ diversity?Â Â Are they encouraged toÂ understandÂ theÂ strugglesÂ of oppressed peoplesÂ aroundÂ theÂ globe asÂ well asÂ those AmericansÂ whoÂ continue toÂ bearÂ the burdenÂ of aÂ legacyÂ of racismÂ and economicÂ deprivation?Â Â IsÂ theÂ pursuitÂ of intellectualÂ inquiry,Â criticalÂ thinking,Â and the developmentÂ of humane attitudesÂ towardsÂ all peoplesÂ the goal of AmericanÂ education?Â Â IsÂ itÂ the goalÂ of any nationâsÂ education?Â
IÂ foundÂ very interesting,Â indeed,Â some parallelsÂ betweenÂ the descriptionÂ of the culturalÂ diversity of ancientÂ AnatoliaÂ andÂ thatÂ of theÂ United States. InÂ Love,Â and the Essence of Being Human,Â GÃ¼lenÂ (2004),Â discussesÂ the conceptÂ of howÂ theÂ differentÂ racesÂ and religions, and worldviewsÂ contributed cultural enrichmentÂ toÂ the developmentÂ of anÂ OttomanÂ culture.Â Â He statesÂ that:Â âinÂ my opinionÂ thisÂ culturalÂ richnessÂ should be used and evaluated inÂ the futureÂ as anÂ unmatched treasure andÂ source of strengthâ.Â (p.Â 80) TheÂ uniqueness of the TurkishÂ culture came aboutÂ by the enrichmentÂ of the blendingÂ and the tolerance of the diversity of the confluence of itsÂ peoples. GÃ¼lenâsÂ life hasÂ led himÂ toÂ be aÂ worldwide leaderÂ inÂ interfaith,Â intercultural dialogue.Â Â He acknowledgesÂ thatÂ dissensionÂ canÂ come aboutÂ playingÂ uponÂ variety inÂ society as aÂ negative force instead of aÂ strength.Â Â He writesÂ thatÂ althoughÂ people may think differently and espouse varyingÂ worldviews,Â âwe are all longingÂ toÂ build aÂ world withoutÂ conflictÂ and contentionÂ based onÂ tolerance andÂ dialogue.â (p.81).Â
TheÂ history of the U.S.Â isÂ one of tryingÂ toÂ create aÂ national unity and consciousness fromÂ aÂ broad mix of peoplesÂ thatÂ have become AmericansÂ underÂ differentÂ circumstances.Â Â We mustÂ dealÂ sensitively withÂ the legacy of slavery,Â borderÂ issuesÂ withÂ Mexico, continuingÂ immigration,Â migration,Â and annexationÂ of lands,Â wars, the existence of hate groupsÂ suchÂ as the KlanÂ and othersÂ thatÂ may spring upÂ as aÂ consequence of currentÂ events.
TheÂ one constantÂ IÂ note inÂ U.S.Â educationÂ isÂ the absence of trueÂ intercultural dialogueÂ and aÂ seriousÂ attemptÂ toÂ bring understanding and appreciationÂ toÂ our diverse learnersÂ aboutÂ the nature of livingÂ inÂ aÂ culturally and linguistically society withinÂ anÂ interdependentÂ world.Â AmericanÂ schoolsÂ were notÂ desegregated until 1954 withÂ the SC decision,Â BrownÂ vs. theÂ Board of Education.Â Â BlacksÂ and whitesÂ beganÂ to study togetherÂ butÂ they were notÂ taughtÂ toÂ acceptÂ oneÂ anotherÂ spiritually.Â Â AttitudesÂ remained entrenched and steeped withÂ misperceptionsÂ forÂ many years.Â Â Any nationÂ withÂ suchÂ aÂ legacyÂ of oppression as the U.S.Â mustÂ reverse thisÂ patternÂ throughÂ aÂ consciousÂ effortÂ atÂ teaching people toÂ appreciate and understandÂ oneÂ another.Â Â Hatred isÂ taught... soÂ tooÂ Love mustÂ be taught.Â Â IgnoringÂ cancerÂ will notÂ cureÂ it.Â Â IÂ wonderÂ nowÂ whatÂ the newestÂ Middle EastÂ conflictÂ inÂ theÂ LebaneseIsraeli theaterÂ will bring toÂ generationsÂ toÂ come if notÂ taughtÂ otherwise?Â
EvenÂ today,Â 240 yearsÂ afterÂ the Civil War,Â AfricanÂ AmericanÂ parentsÂ worry aboutÂ whatÂ they will encounterÂ inÂ our schools. IÂ would like toÂ shareÂ withÂ youÂ aÂ beautiful poemÂ entitled âIÂ AskÂ YouÂ My Childrenâ,Â writtenÂ by Ronald Coleman,Â (cited inÂ Hale,Â 1986).Â
IÂ ask youÂ my children,Â
WhatÂ did youÂ learnÂ today?Â
did anyone tell youÂ howÂ toÂ meetÂ tomorrow?Â
did anyone tell youÂ why there are people whoÂ donâtÂ knowÂ you?Â
did anyone seemÂ toÂ knowÂ whoÂ youÂ were?Â
did anyone knowÂ thatÂ youÂ have theÂ blood of Africa inÂ your veins orÂ did they pretend toÂ be blindÂ toÂ your colorÂ and thereby deny itsÂ value?Â
WhatÂ did youÂ learn?Â
did anyone explain the natureÂ of freedom?
did anyone explain the natureÂ of racism?
did anyone explain the natureÂ of love?Â
did anyone knowÂ anything aboutÂ those things?Â
did anyone knowÂ anything?Â
WhatÂ DIDÂ youÂ learnÂ today?Â (p.151).Â
FormalÂ education as we knowÂ itÂ today inÂ our publicÂ institutions, oftentimesÂ doesÂ notÂ provide eitherÂ time orÂ psychological space forÂ ourÂ childrenÂ toÂ develop the rational thinking skillsÂ andÂ spiritualÂ intuitiveness necessary toÂ reflectÂ honestly and openly aboutÂ theÂ complexitiesÂ of the humanÂ conditionÂ inÂ relationÂ toÂ theirÂ curriculum.Â Â ParentsÂ andÂ family membersÂ mustÂ insistÂ uponÂ aÂ multiculturalÂ curriculumÂ designed toÂ teachÂ childrenÂ toÂ respectÂ and admireÂ humanÂ diversity and the contributionsÂ of all of usÂ toÂ humanÂ civilization.Â
GÃ¼lenÂ writes:Â âRemaining respectful toÂ othersâÂ thoughtsÂ and feelingsÂ because âthey are human,âÂ we mustÂ acceptÂ all people inÂ theirÂ ownÂ specialÂ circumstancesÂ and withÂ theirÂ thoughts.Â ThisÂ dispositionÂ isÂ notÂ alienÂ to,Â ratherÂ itÂ isÂ givenÂ aÂ highÂ priority inÂ Islam.Â Â InÂ thisÂ respect,Â IÂ personally believe thatÂ itÂ isÂ very importantÂ forÂ the sake of humanÂ peace andÂ happinessÂ toÂ spread suchÂ conceptsÂ as âsocial peace and tolerance.â (p.Â 83).Â Â OtherÂ faithsÂ espouse thisÂ sentimentÂ asÂ well,Â butÂ childrenÂ are notÂ learning about the similaritiesÂ of these teachings.Â These conceptsÂ should be included inÂ curriculumÂ worldwide,Â and especially inÂ nationsÂ like the U.S., whichÂ are pluralisticÂ by definition.Â
InÂ the 1960âs,Â thereÂ existed aÂ democraticÂ spiritÂ toÂ addressÂ educationalÂ equity and multiculturalismÂ thatÂ gave rise toÂ curriculumÂ innovationÂ and aÂ zestÂ forÂ socialÂ justice.Â Unfortunately,Â there hasÂ beenÂ aÂ backlashÂ toward thisÂ movementÂ since 2000,Â withÂ aÂ political mood away fromÂ affirmative action and equal educational opportunities. However,Â one organization,Â the National AssociationÂ forÂ MulticulturalÂ Education (NAME)Â continuesÂ toÂ fosterÂ curricular change toÂ supportÂ equity inÂ education.Â Â The definitionÂ of multiculturalÂ education according toÂ NAMEÂ asÂ itÂ appearsÂ onÂ itsÂ website isÂ asÂ follows:Â
âMulticulturalÂ educationÂ isÂ a philosophicalÂ conceptÂ builtÂ onÂ the idealsÂ of freedom,Â justice,Â equality,Â equity,Â and human dignity asÂ acknowledged inÂ variousÂ documents,Â suchÂ asÂ the U.S.Â DeclarationÂ of Independence,Â constitutionsÂ of SouthÂ AfricaÂ and the United States,Â and the UniversalÂ DeclarationÂ of HumanÂ RightsÂ adopted by the United Nations.Â ItÂ affirms ourÂ need toÂ prepareÂ studentÂ forÂ theirÂ responsibilitiesÂ inÂ anÂ interdependentÂ world.Â ItÂ recognizesÂ the roleÂ schoolsÂ canÂ play inÂ developing the attitudesÂ and valuesÂ necessaryÂ forÂ a democraticÂ society.Â ItÂ valuesÂ culturalÂ differencesÂ and affirms the pluralismÂ thatÂ students,Â theirÂ communities,Â and teachersÂ reflect.Â ItÂ challengesÂ allÂ forms of discriminationÂ inÂ schoolsÂ and society throughÂ the promotionÂ of democraticÂ principlesÂ of socialÂ justiceâÂ (nameorg.org).Â
IÂ believe thatÂ the underlyingÂ philosophy of NAMEÂ canÂ be bolstered by the interfaithÂ and interculturalÂ work beingÂ done by those whoÂ supportÂ and encourage theÂ dissemination of GÃ¼lenâsÂ writings.Â Â IÂ alsoÂ believe thatÂ the importance of disseminatingÂ hisÂ ideas and writingsÂ toÂ likeminded educatorsÂ will provide greaterÂ worldwide unity and solidarity of purpose forÂ U.S.
educatorsÂ unaware of GÃ¼lenâsÂ prolificÂ productivity inÂ supportÂ of globalÂ peace,Â humanÂ dignity,Â and humanÂ development.Â
AnotherÂ importantÂ feature of GÃ¼leneducational philosophyÂ isÂ thatÂ science and technology doÂ notÂ have toÂ be divorced fromÂ oneâsÂ spirituality orÂ faith.Â Hence,Â thereÂ isÂ aÂ heavy emphasisÂ onÂ technologyÂ andÂ science inÂ these schoolsÂ around the world.Â Â GÃ¼leninspired schoolsÂ participate inÂ science fairsÂ and competitionsÂ throughoutÂ theÂ world,Â oftentimesÂ withÂ greatÂ success.Â AÂ case inÂ point,Â isÂ the WillowÂ International School (akaÂ TurkishÂ College)Â inÂ Mozambique.Â Â ThisÂ school wonÂ second place inÂ theÂ International ComputerÂ ProjectÂ competitionÂ heldÂ inÂ RomaniaÂ (Aydemir,Â 2006).Â Â TurkishÂ schoolsÂ inÂ the UKÂ alsoÂ participated inÂ the 3rd AxisÂ Science FairÂ coorganized by the AxisÂ Education FoundationÂ and the LightÂ House Education FoundationÂ
(Samar,Â 2006).Â There are many suchÂ examplesÂ of excellence inÂ the sciencesÂ inÂ GÃ¼leninspired schools. GÃ¼lenâsÂ ideasÂ aboutÂ the role of science and itsÂ connection toÂ the DivineÂ lawsÂ of the Creator,Â are completely consonantÂ withÂ theÂ totality of hisÂ viewsÂ aboutÂ education.Â Â InÂ EssentialsÂ of the IslamicÂ FaithÂ (2005),Â the readerÂ gets aÂ clearÂ vision aboutÂ the inextricable relationshipÂ betweenÂ science andÂ creation.Â Â He urgesÂ theÂ readerÂ notÂ toÂ fearÂ science,Â butÂ ratherÂ itsÂ exploitation.Â Â He statesÂ thatâ¦Â âthe naturalÂ world is like aÂ book forÂ usÂ toÂ study,Â anÂ exhibitionÂ toÂ behold,Â and aÂ trustÂ fromÂ whichÂ weÂ canÂ benefit.âÂ (p. 272).Â He alsoÂ statesÂ thatÂ science revealsÂ toÂ usÂ the CreatorâsÂ purpose.Â (p.272) SuchÂ ideas canÂ be foundÂ inÂ othersâÂ writings, andÂ evenÂ supported inÂ otherÂ faiths. InÂ theÂ BahaiÂ Faith,Â forÂ example,Â one of the principlesÂ isÂ the harmony of religionÂ and science.Â Â Paul Lample,Â (1999),Â aÂ contemporary BahaiÂ writer,Â statesÂ that:Â âThe individualÂ whoÂ aspiresÂ toÂ wisdomÂ isÂ continually seekingÂ orientationÂ fromÂ theÂ twinÂ knowledge systemsÂ of religionÂ andÂ science.Â Â ThroughoutÂ history,Â humanity hasÂ repeatedly fallenÂ intoÂ the pitfallsÂ of superstitionÂ andÂ fanaticismÂ onÂ oneÂ hand,Â andÂ materialismÂ and moralÂ relativismÂ onÂ the other.Â The complimentary truthsÂ of these twoÂ systemsÂ make itÂ possible toÂ avoid these dangersâ (pp.Â 1617)
ItÂ isÂ ironicÂ thatÂ inÂ the United StatesÂ today,Â there isÂ aÂ raging polemicÂ aboutÂ theÂ value of science and of scientificbased theoriesÂ suchÂ as evolution.Â There hasÂ beenÂ little interestÂ inÂ tryingÂ toÂ reconcile science withÂ faithÂ inÂ the AmericanÂ education system.Â Â Since 1925,Â forÂ example,Â there have beenÂ many challengesÂ toÂ antievolutionistÂ policiesÂ beginningÂ withÂ the ScopesÂ TrialÂ (Evolution,Â Education,Â andÂ theÂ Law,Â 2005).Â Â OnÂ the otherÂ hand,Â there isÂ aÂ strictÂ polemicÂ inÂ AmericanÂ culture betweenÂ the socalled âseparationÂ of churchÂ andÂ stateâ,Â leadingÂ toÂ almostÂ fanaticÂ behaviorÂ fromÂ those whoÂ doÂ notÂ wantÂ any mentionÂ of God orÂ religionÂ of any kindÂ inÂ schools, evenÂ denyingÂ studentsÂ theÂ rightÂ toÂ pray inÂ silence orÂ wearÂ appropriate cultural attire inÂ accordÂ withÂ theirÂ beliefs, toÂ aÂ severe attack onÂ science inÂ general.Â Â InÂ anÂ informative articleÂ aboutÂ attacksÂ onÂ science,Â LeonÂ LynnÂ (1997,Â 1998)Â writes:Â RightwingersÂ andÂ religiousÂ fundamentalists have beenÂ buoyed by newfound political strengthÂ inÂ recentÂ years.Â Â TheyÂ are attackingÂ evolutionas well as theÂ whole conceptÂ of aÂ secular,Â publicly funded school systemâÂ withÂ everincreasingÂ vigorÂ as they attemptÂ toÂ batterÂ downÂ the U.S. ConstitutionâsÂ separation of churchÂ and state and stamp their ownÂ brand of religionÂ uponÂ school curriculum.Â (p.Â 1)Â So,Â evenÂ inÂ theÂ sphere of faithÂ andÂ science,Â politics rearsÂ itsÂ head and makesÂ tolerance of diversity aÂ cause forÂ misunderstanding.Â Â OnÂ theÂ otherÂ side of theÂ argument,Â there isÂ aÂ freshÂ lawsuitÂ fromÂ the family of aÂ LasÂ Vegas highÂ school valedictorianÂ whose speechÂ wasÂ cutÂ off forÂ herÂ mentionÂ of ChristÂ andÂ invitationsÂ toÂ joinÂ herÂ faithÂ (ValedictorianÂ suesÂ NevadaÂ school forÂ cutting off speech, 2006).Â
IÂ amÂ notÂ certainÂ how,Â orÂ if,Â oneâsÂ attitudesÂ aboutÂ science isÂ limiting the choice of academicÂ majorsÂ inÂ the U.S.,Â butÂ itÂ isÂ observable that many professorsÂ of engineering andÂ the hardÂ sciencesÂ inÂ AmericanÂ universitiesÂ were international studentsÂ priorÂ toÂ employment.Â Â Also, there isÂ aÂ severeÂ shortage of science and mathÂ teachersÂ inÂ the United StatesÂ asÂ well,Â and tests revealÂ thatÂ studentsÂ areÂ notÂ excellingÂ inÂ theÂ publicÂ schoolsÂ inÂ these subjectÂ matterÂ disciplines. AcademicÂ rigor,Â the investmentÂ inÂ youth,Â attentionÂ toÂ our communities,Â and toÂ theÂ futureÂ of democracy inÂ America are all atÂ stake if the publicÂ doesÂ notÂ passionately supportÂ itsÂ schools.
ItÂ isÂ importantÂ forÂ parentsÂ toÂ monitorÂ their childrenâsÂ understandings. AskingÂ your childrenÂ daily,Â notÂ only whatÂ did youÂ learnÂ today,Â butÂ whatÂ doÂ youÂ think aboutÂ whatÂ youÂ learned today,Â or howÂ doÂ youÂ feel aboutÂ whatÂ youÂ did inÂ school today,Â may give youÂ some helpful insightsÂ aboutÂ theÂ attitudesÂ andÂ perceptionsÂ theyÂ may be developingÂ aboutÂ society,Â past, present,Â and future and aboutÂ themselves, their family,Â andÂ theirÂ ownÂ beliefsÂ and values.
InÂ thisÂ way,Â familiesÂ have aÂ pointÂ of departureÂ fromÂ whichÂ toÂ developÂ aÂ dialogue withÂ theirÂ childrenÂ concerningÂ their ownÂ ideas and interpretationsÂ aboutÂ life andÂ reality.Â Â ItÂ isÂ thenÂ thatÂ theyÂ will be able toÂ help themÂ negotiate theirÂ ownÂ meaningsÂ aboutÂ thingsÂ and become autonomous,Â critical thinkers,Â whoÂ areÂ selfconfidentÂ and assured thatÂ whatÂ theyÂ think has value andÂ merit.Â
InÂ closing,Â admittedly,Â there isÂ muchÂ moreÂ toÂ say and write onÂ thisÂ theme beyond the scope of thisÂ paper.Â IÂ doÂ hope,Â however,Â thatÂ moreÂ scrutiny and crossculturalÂ dialogue will occurÂ aboutÂ whatÂ childrenÂ and youthÂ inÂ the U.S.Â need toÂ knowÂ aboutÂ eachÂ otherÂ and aboutÂ theÂ world we all share.Â Â EducationÂ mustÂ be aÂ topÂ priority forÂ America.Â Â Time isÂ runningÂ outÂ forÂ peace and forÂ anÂ educated electorate toÂ maintainÂ aÂ democracy.
Aydemir,Â H.Â (2006,Â May 21).Â Mozambique TurkishÂ school winsÂ itsÂ firstÂ science medal.Â
Retrieved May 29,Â 2006 fromÂ FethullahÂ GÃ¼lenâsÂ Web site:Â
Central Asia: FethullahÂ GÃ¼lenâsÂ missionary schools.Â (2002,Â April 11).Â ISIMÂ Newsletter.Â
Evolution,Â Education,Â andÂ the Law.Â (2005,Â Sept.Â 21).Â Retrieved July 9,Â 2006 from:
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GÃ¼len,Â M.Â F.Â (2000).Â Advocate of dialogue.Â Compiled by Ali UnalÂ & Alphonse Williams.Â Fairfax,Â VA:Â TheÂ Fountain.Â
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GÃ¼len,Â F.Â (2004). Love and the essence of being human.Â (M.Â UnalÂ & N.Â Kormaz,Â Trans.)Â Prepared forÂ publicationÂ by Faruk Tuncer.Â Istanbul,Â Turkey:Â Journalists andÂ WritersÂ FoundationÂ Publications.
GÃ¼len,Â M.Â F.Â (2004).Â Toward aÂ globalÂ civilizationÂ (M.Â Unal,Â N.Â Haliloglu,Â & M.Â Fanikucukmehmedoglu,Â Trans.).Â J.Â L.Â KandurÂ & H.Â YesilovaÂ (Eds. of EnglishÂ text).Â Somerset,Â NJ: TheÂ Light.Â
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Lample,Â P.Â (1999).Â Creating aÂ newÂ mind:Â ReflectionsÂ onÂ the individualÂ the institutionsÂ and theÂ community.Â RivieraÂ Beach,Â FL: PalabraÂ Publications.Â
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ValedictorianÂ suesÂ NevadaÂ school forÂ cuttingÂ off speech.Â (2006,Â July 15).Â LubbockÂ Avalanche Journal,Â p.Â B4.Â
Viadero,Â D.Â (2006,Â July 14).Â âBestÂ PracticesâÂ distilled fromÂ studiesÂ onÂ moreÂ thanÂ 250Â schools. edweek.org.Â Retrieved July 14,Â 2006Â fromÂ
WhatÂ makesÂ kidsÂ care?Â Teaching gentlenessÂ inÂ aÂ violentÂ world.Â (n.d.).Â Retrieved July 9,Â 2006 fromÂ APAÂ OnlineÂ
Woodhall,Â R.Â (2005,Â November).Â OrganizingÂ theÂ organization,Â educating the educators:Â AnÂ examinationÂ of FethullahÂ GÃ¼lenâsÂ teachingÂ and the membership of the movement.Â PaperÂ presented atÂ IslamÂ inÂ the Contemporary World:Â TheÂ FethullahÂ GÃ¼lenÂ MovementÂ inÂ ThoughtÂ and Practice,Â Houston,Â TX.Â
Zehr,Â M.Â A.Â (2006,Â July 18).Â PublicÂ schoolsÂ onÂ parÂ with,Â outperformÂ private schoolsÂ inÂ some areas, federal studyÂ says.Â edweek.org.Â Retrieved fromÂ