Yuksel A. Aslandogan, Muhammed Cetin
One of the crowning achievements of Gülen in his activism was the establishment of the tripartite educator–parent–sponsor relationship (or family–school–environment, Ünal and Williams 2000:310). But this achievement was only possible because of two other main factors.
First, to be involved in education, the society was looking for an educational philosophy that embraced their cultural heritage and values, instead of trying to eliminate or replace them. Gülen’s thinking was anchored in tradition but embraced modernity without fear. As Turkish society was in a quest for an education that endowed their children with modern knowledge and skills while preserving their values, Gülen-inspired schools offered an education excelling in math, science, language, arts and sports while retaining the common moral values. Gülen maintains:
A community’s survival depends on idealism and good morals, as well as on reaching the necessary level in scientific and techno- logical progress. [In addition], trades and crafts should be taught beginning at least in the elementary level. A good school is not a building where only theoretical information is given, but an institution or a laboratory where students are prepared for life. [in Ünal and Williams 2000:310]
Secondly, the public wanted to make sure that their financial contributions were not wasted. Gülen’s emphasis on the altruistic approach of the educators and the embracing of this attitude by a generation of young teachers gave the public this much-needed confidence.
As his approach entailed serving the whole community, Gülen persuaded parents who were paying tuition and the business owners supporting the schools that the educational opportunities offered to the financially-able families needed to be extended to the economically disadvantaged. As a result of the establishment of scholarships, between twenty and forty percent of the enrollment in these schools consisted of children whose families could not otherwise afford to send their children to private schools. The sponsors understood that they were paying for the education of not only their own children but additional economically disadvantaged students as well, and they embraced this approach cheerfully. Some parents and financial sponsors even took the extra step of establishing scholarships for tens or hundreds of additional students. Gülen’s premise was that philanthropy was not alien to the human soul, but that the soul needed to be convinced that its contributions would not be wasted.
(1) Ünal, Ali and Williams, Alphonse, eds. 2000. Fethullah Gülen: Advocate of dialogue. Fairfax; The Fountain. Page 310
The Educational Philosophy of Gülen in Thought and Practice in “Muslim Citizens of the Globalized World: Contributions of the Gulen Movement.” 2007. Edited by Robert Hunt and Yuksel Aslandogan. The Light Inc and IID Press. Pages 33-35.
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