Burning candles: Turkish Student Teachers’ Experiences of South African (Teacher) Education.
Samuel, Michael Anthony.
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This paper uses a life history methodology to trace the experiences of a group of Turkish students who are training as teachers in the South African higher education system. It analyses the influence of culture, wider societal formings and the role of philosophical approaches to the valuing of teachers, especially the faith-based Gulen Movement which challenges the dominant caricatured notions of Muslim identity and values. The constructions of the identity of Muslim as terrorist and fundamentalist are seen as a product of Western constructions of othering. The Turkish students’ experiences of having been taught by teachers inside and outside the Gulen Movement schooling system allows them to identify their personal career goals of becoming teachers. Links between the reconstructive agenda of post-apartheid South Africa and the Gulen Movement become points of comparison. Their reflections of what marks the identity of student teachers in the Faculty of Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and their views of engaging with practicing teachers in South African schools, provides perspectives on what teacher preparation is and could be in a transforming South African education system. Their insights suggest service to humanity through deep commitment and caring, but rooted in the notions of excellence and expertise in disciplinary knowledge. Their international insights provide a means to question the goals for our South African teacher educational curriculum and the training of teachers.