Thursday, February 11, 2010

Turning Children into Race Horses...

Last nite Ela had a runny nose and tho I assumed it's a sign of teething I went to the pharmacy early in the morning to get in case she gets the counter there was a woman next to me asking the pharmacist if they had that would "give her daughter extra energy, but not vitamins, stronger, that makes her brain work better(!) so that she could get better grades and be more successful at school..."
She was basically asking for some kind of doping...
Of course, the pharmacist said they didn't have such a thing and that it wasn't necessary if she was eating healthy.
This actually reflects the current situation in Turkey...children are like race horses...esp. after the age of 9-10 they start to prepare for exams and don't stop till they manage to enter a university. Parents are concerned about their kids' success and try to do everything to make them succeed at school and in the exams. Sadly, these kids can't live a healthy and joyful childhood and miss on most of the fun things they could and probably should do at this age.
My 13-year-old niece, for instance, would love to take guitar lessons and play basketball...but her parents believe it would affect her grades and therefore don't let her. She goes to school full day and then to "Etud" where she basically does her homework..then at weekends she goes to a "Dersane" where she prepares for the SBS exam to get into a good high school (this Dersane is a serious problem, the current government promised to change the system and close them down but it's just too big a sector with too powerful people in charge). Sometimes she wakes up at 4 o'clock in the morning to prepare for the age of 13!
It's really hard for me to understand this-I don't know..maybe because I had the chance to go to school in Germany where everything is totally different and not exam-oriented I can't consider this to be normal.
These kids will look back at their childhood years and all they remember is going to be study-study-study...
It's also sad to see that the only thing the parents of these kids want is success.
Another thing I really can't relate to is that parents tend to do their children's homeworks. Esp. if there's some kind of project to prepare it turns into a family matter where even grandparents and uncles get involved!
Sometimes I wish Ela could go to school in Germany till university...
But since that's not an option I will try to provide her with the least stressfull educational environment possible.


  1. Yeouch! Not nice! It sounds very competitive and doesnt' really helpy convey positive values for the pleasure of curiosity and learning.
    I can understand you wishing your daughter could study in Germany, but by the time she is in school hopefully things will have changed a bit. Also, you'll be able to contribute to her balanced education by not being too competitive yourself and by introducing her to other activities such as sport and music to balance it all out.
    It is really sad for the children though, I agree...

  2. It is not only sad for children when they are young but also very sad when they get older. As a 32 year old woman raised as a race horse in this system, looking at my life and my friends' lives I can say that we are all aimless unhappy people trying to find races to relax ourselves. That's why I had 2 masters and now working on my PhD. We didn't have any aims in life but to get good grades to make our families happy. I am still struggling to find my way, my passion. I tried to be a musician after the university, but I couldn't. Because inside of me, something didn't allow, I couldn't be comfortable with my choice. Because it wasn't something respected in my society, it wasn't serious enough to do. I had to be 'successful'.

    I hope you can protect your children. Now, I am thinking of unschooling for my baby. I want her to be herself, to follow her passion freely. I even try not to say "aferin" to her. Because I don't want her to behave for my praise, I want her to behave for herself, if she is to behave for something I want that thing to be humanity, not her teachers or her boss. I want her to be interested in the outside world, arts and other things.

    Your observations are great by the way. Best wishes!

  3. Your comment made me feel so sad...I wish I had the power to give you your childhood years back :))) ...I think this is a very serious problem but I also think the majority of parents don't even recognize it as a problem and believe their children's success is the only thing that matters.