I began teaching in 1984 at a large comprehensive in West London, but I always wanted to experience life outside of the UK, and after three years I realised that it was ‘now or never time’ and began looking for jobs.
As I don’t teach English, I assumed my options would be very few (don’t ask me why – I just did), but I soon found out that this just wasn’t true. There really are jobs for all of you! Personally, I didn’t want to work in an English speaking country – that didn’t seem exciting enough, but despite the enormous respect I have for those who build schools (and, in turn, communities) in deprived regions of the world, I didn’t feel confident enough to choose that path either. I saw an advert for a mathematics post in Istanbul, and despite having very little knowledge of either the city or Turkey, decided that it met my basic criteria, and four days later I signed a one year contract.
I arrived here in September 1987, and after signing to stay on for a second year, met Ilknur, a (Turkish) English teacher. We married in 1990 and we have a daughter aged 16 and twin daughters aged 11.
I worked for 8 years at my first school here, then 10 years at a second, and now I am in my fourth year at my present post. I have mostly taught years 9 to 11, but have also had spells teaching years 6 to 8.
My students are Turkish, but they study mathematics and science lessons in English. This system has its critics (from both educational and political standpoints) but the feedback I have received over the years from ex-students is overwhelmingly positive. Those who have gone on to the world of academia speak of the advantages they have when keeping up with new research; whilst others simply mention how much easier it is to do business when the main protagonists share a common language. With all the new ideas that have come and gone over the past 30 years in the UK, I am rather surprised that you don’t have any similar options. Schools with a working language of, for example, German, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, or Chinese would help in breaking the mould of the ‘Little Englander’, and would also be of immense benefit economically.
I will be writing again over the coming months about aspects of living and working in Turkey, but if anyone would like my views and/or advice on a particular topic then please get in touch and I will do my best to help if possible.
Mutlu Olun! (Be Happy!)