Any bright ideas?
|Only more recently -- and particularly in private primary schools and kindergartens in urban areas around Turkey -- will you witness children being encouraged to stand out and express themselves. The educational system is gradually changing.|
While auditing graduate-level work at a Turkish university in the department of history in the 1980s and later teaching anthropology and other subjects at a Turkish university, I observed that the Turkish school system did not encourage creative thinking.
Just under half a century ago, I attended a public elementary school in the United States where it was common for your teacher to encourage you to be yourself and think for yourself. The teacher created an atmosphere of free thinking. You’d be given something to make you smile and want to think -- even at an early age. Maybe it was just a gold star sticker then, but later in life, rewards would be greater. Every American child who grew up with Dr. Seuss books is familiar with this one:
It’s amazing what you can do with just a sticker or two
A sticker can make smiles grow quicker for me and you
There’s a sticker for a job well done,
And even a sticker for a job just begun,
A sticker for my very own book,
Or a sticker my just my very own book nook,
There’s a sticker for this,
And a sticker for that,
And a very special sticker
For that cat in the hat!
As Western-style management in non-Western nations increases through globalization, a number of adults who were solely taught by the rote system are learning to feel free to express their own opinions. Don’t misunderstand me! For older adults, even in the West, one of the lasting memories from elementary school is of our teacher using flash cards to teach us some important facts. Whether we were learning to read or remember our basic math facts, flash cards were often the tool to help us remember the information our teacher deemed important and, later, to test our recall of those facts.
With the fast development of technology and the Internet, young Turkish students have easy access to Google, Wikipedia and online libraries and do not need to memorize every fact and figure. Teaching children to think creatively so they can learn to interpret and apply the knowledge available online is essential. Certainly in major urban areas in Turkey, educationalist are moving in this direction. The only hindrance may be the lack of computers in schools.
One major UK-based insurance company, Commercial Union, which has grown rapidly in Turkey in the past decade, has been contributing to its creative and energetic team. The company has strongly encouraged all their Turkish staff to think outside the box. I was told that the company created an atmosphere for bright ideas to be shared, calling it “Cin Fikirler.”
Such an approach goes against the old popular notion where it was believed that teachers (or managers) were the fountain of knowledge.
Don Tapscott, author of “Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything,” is convinced that the ability to learn new things is more important than ever as it is crucial for everyone to process new information at lightning speed.
Anyone who has the chance to express himself freely enjoys the opportunity. Others who have not had the opportunity will continue to say what they think you -- the boss or teacher -- wants to hear. It dates back to trying to guess what the teacher wanted them to say, not saying what they actually thought.
You will find that your Turkish staff will begin to think for themselves with a manager who encourages open and frank communication. This enables you to tackle issues well before they become problems and also take advantage of the creative ideas of your employees. After all, don’t we all like to believe that others are interested in what we have to say?
The attempts that companies such as Commercial Union and others have made to provide the opportunity to communicate directly with the top managers enhances the sense of self-esteem of workers and helps create in them a sense of belonging, a feeling that what they think and feel is important to their organization.
“I think it’s the biggest change in a century in the ways that companies build relationships and interact with other entities, institutions in the economy and in society and arguably, the nature of the corporation itself.” -- Don Tapscott
Note: Charlotte McPherson is the author of “Culture Smart: Turkey, 2005.” Please keep your questions and observations coming: I want to ensure this column is a help to you, Today’s Zaman’s readers. Email: email@example.com