Taking the made-up exam for the flunked Ottoman course

Taking the made-up exam for the flunked Ottoman course

YEKTA KOPAN yekta.kopan@gmail.com
My late grandfather was very interested in linguistics. There is a program he prepared to teach the Ottoman script in 20 lessons. In other words, after 20 hours, you are able to read and write the Ottoman language.

This is indeed a program only for the script. My grandfather, knowing that a language cannot be constituted only from letters, mentioned this in his foreword anyway.

“The rest is up to you. What you need to do is read plenty of books and look up words in the dictionary to enrich your vocabulary. For this, you may need to become a member of libraries that contain old books, because otherwise you will not have many sources to access the limited number of old books. But everybody knows that a language does not constitute of words only,” he wrote.

For my grandfather’s formula to work, first of all linguistics and politicians should decide whether Ottoman is a language or a script. 

In our country, no step is taken without evaluating it through positive sciences and without consulting experts. Otherwise, everybody knows that it would be a revanchist practice.

This historic decision of the Education Council was received with joy throughout the country, not only in the ministry and the government.

The course, which the council had defined the course as “compulsory” through a slip of the tongue, will, I am sure, was changed to “elective” by the ministry officials. Otherwise, it would be regarded as an ideological decision, reminiscent of the one-party era. Politicians and political movements never contradict themselves, you know.

But the ministry has this problem: Are there enough teachers to teach Ottoman? Are there enough academics to educate these teachers? If there is a problem in that sense, we can meet for my late grandfather’s “Ottoman in 20 lessons” program.

Will the list of language options offered to students as elective courses confuse the students? Kurdish will indeed be on that list. Kurdish youth will already be taught in Kurdish, no doubt. But maybe non-Kurdish ones would like to learn this language spoken in this region. Just like those who would want to elect Armenian.

The list will not only have Kurdish and Armenian. There will be other languages on that list. The government’s non-imposing mentality would regard any other practice as “brain washing.”

The ministry will carry the council’s decision further. They will also offer sign language so that we can communicate with the deaf. The braille alphabet will also be taught.

The mentality of an elective course is this; one elects a course that one can use in the practicality of life. With this approach, the ministry will have an equal distance to all languages spoken or that were spoken in the past in this region. It will value all of them, will not impose anything and it will offer young people every option.

The young minds that the ministry has been educating and preparing for the future with a pedagogic approach will have the opportunity to develop themselves by electing a language course in high school. The much-talked-about “Our Values” course will teach brotherhood, equality, freedom, sharing, not lying, not “otherizing” people, environmental awareness and the like to the students.

Of course, there will be factious ones who say, “Such things will not happen. Religious education will be introduced starting from pre-school. Ottoman will be compulsory starting from primary school. Behind all these decisions is the wish to radically restructure the society beyond conservatism. We have entered the ‘era of ideological pressure.’” But, how can an Education Ministry and government do such things? Well, they can. And they are already doing it. They will do it whether we want it or not.

They are doing it and will do it with the most revanchist sentences, most oppressing cries, most hubristic definitions and ideological stances.

It is very sad that all of these have been said in the Education Council with this spirit of imposing. It is scary. 

Those who want to implement this decision, those who applaud it, those who are trying to make it look meaningful have already failed class in the Ottoman course; they are scheduled to take a make-up test.