History and Culture of Turkey
An exploration of the history and culture of Turkey can provide students with a greater understanding and appreciation of this region.
By Daniella Garran
The history and culture of Turkey is especially fascinating since it represents the confluence of East and West. The geography, traditions and history of the country can be studied from a variety of perspectives and in several different disciplines. Certainly, geography teachers will incorporate Turkey as part of their course of study, but art teachers may choose to explore specific artists or styles from Turkey as well. Social studies teachers will want to convey that the history of Turkey was not only influenced by other nations, but also that Turkey itself had a significant impact on world history.
Students will enjoy researching and making models or drawings of the numerous landmarks throughout Turkey. Using clay, Model Magic, Sculpey, clay or a similar material, have students create a small model of some of Turkey’s most important sites, including Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and the many landmarks in Troy, Ephesus, Pergamon and Istanbul. You may also choose to have them write a brief report on the site to reflect their research. For those seeking an opportunity to collaborate with the math department, consider having students do a scale drawing of their landmark.
Divide students into small groups to report on different Turkish cities and regions including Istanbul, Bosphorus, Ankara and Izmir to name a few. Each group should chart the history of the place, its landmarks and significance. The information gathered should be presented to the class either orally with visual aids or through a PowerPoint presentation.
Turkey is home to countless individuals who influenced the course of human history. Have a Turkish Festival in which all of these figures come together to share their ideas, inventions, artwork and writings. Be sure to include Helen of Troy, Emperor Justinian, Mimar Sinan, Tevfik Fikret, and Suleiman the Magnificent. Have students dress in character, deliver a brief speech introducing themselves and then allow them to mingle with the other historical figures whom they might not have met previously.
History and Culture of Turkey:
This lesson focuses on the geography of Turkey. Students have the opportunity to compare and contrast the way that geography affects the lives of people living in Turkey and in the United States. This is an excellent way to reinforce the major themes of geography.
Although this lesson is designed to take 10 class periods, it can be condensed so that students get the full effect of the lesson which focuses on whether or not Turkey should become part of the European Union. Students analyze Turkey’s candidacy vis-à-vis the EU’s requirements for admission.
For those looking to focus on the religious culture of Turkey, this lesson allows students to compare and contrast the role of Islam in Turkey with other nations. Students have a chance to create a television commercial and a UN exhibition to document their research.