NurettinTopçu, one of the leading Turkish thinkers, was one of the intellectuals who had family roots based on the Ottoman Empire, grew up in the Republican Period, believed in indigenous thought, and lived for this purpose. He marked an era through forming a “School of Movement” in Turkey by having published “The Journal of Movement in Opinion and Art” in February 1939, and now, he is known as a true moral philosopher.
NuretiinTopçu, over his 66-year of life span, published 23 books, wrote hundreds of articles in the following journals; “Hareket”, “KomünizmeKarşıMücadele”, “Düşünen Adam”, “TürkYurdu”, “Şule”, “BizimTürkiye”, “BüyükDoğu” and “Sebilürreşad”, and also he wrote newspaper articles in the following local newspapers; “Akşam”, “Yeni İstanbul”, “Yeniİstiklal” and “Son Havadis”. Apart from these studies, he used nicknames such as “NizamAhmet” and “Osman Asyalı” in his several papers published in “The Journal of Movement in Opinion and Art”. In The Journal of Movement, he wrote leading editorials with a signature of movement, and published translations and letters without notifying any author names again.
NurettinTopçu was born in Süleymaniye – a town in Istanbul – in 1909. His father was from Erzurum (a city in Turkey) and his family was known as “Topçuzadeler” (Family members coming from a occupational background of artillery work) due to the fact that his grandfather, Sir Osman, was a artillery worker in the Ottoman Army; therefore, his last name “Topçu” (Artillery Worker) was originated from his family roots. His mother was from Eğin. He graduated from “BüyükReşidPaşaNumuneMektebi” in 1922. The Turkish teacher Sir Nâfız, who helped his students memorize Mehmet Âkif’s poems, instilled the life-long love of Mehmet Âkif to NurettinTopçu in this school. He continued his secondary education in “Veda İdadisi”. He completed his high school education in “Istanbul ErkekLisesi (Istanbul Male High-School)”, and he became interested in philosophy while he was studying there.
In order to study in Europe, he went to France by taking the corresponding exam succcesfully. In this time period, he met with the French philosopher Maurice Blondel, who was the founder of the philosophy of action, and he communicated with Maurice Blondel through letters for a long time. Two years later, he moved to the University of Strasbourg, where he studied philosophy. He was the second person who gave Turkish lessons to Maurice Blondel after Adnan Adıvar. He met with Ali FuadBaşgil, RemziOğuzArık, ZiyaeddinFahriFındıkoğlu, SamedAğaoğlu, Ö. LütfiBerkan and BesimDarkot, those who had already come to Paris before him. Among them, he maintained his close relations with RemziOğuzArık and ZiyaeddinFahriFındıkoğlu after his return to Turkey.
He defended his dissertation study entitled ConformismeetRévolte (Docility and Rebellion) with an outstanding succes. His dissertation thesis was selected as the most successful dissertation study by the doctoral jury of Sorbonne University. For this reason, he was offered to accept a golden watch or blue voyage to the USA or North Europe; however, he declined the offer. He was then asked to clarify his own request for the award, so he asked for allowing the Turkish national flag wave in the sky of Sorbonne over a 24 hour-period. His request was accepted and fulfilled.
He received the title of associate professor with his associate professorship thesis on the founder of Intuitionism; Bergson. However, he was not appointed as an associate professor by the boards of the Faculty of Letters at Istanbul University; but for a while, he gave lectures on morals in HilmiZiyaÜlken’s chair. Today, no one knows those who opposed the appointment in Turkey, but the number of studies conducted on NurettinTopçu’s Master and PhD research is highly considerable. He retired from Istanbul ErkekLisesi (Istanbul Male High School) on November 20, 1974 due to age limit. One year later, he passed away. His tomb is located in TopkapıKozlu graveyard in İstanbul.
This research was carried out by following a qualitative research method; document analysis technique. In this context, the role of school and teacher in morality and character education were examined by taking into consideration NurettinTopçu’s articles published in The Journal of Movement between 1939-1953 and some other studies related to the subject in concern.
According to Topçu, there is rebellion at the base of morality. However, this rebellion is the rebellion of Allah in man; and it is the full commitment to love with free will. This particular Topçu’s rebellion is neither the rebellion of an anarchist, who defends individual absolute freedom against the authority of the state, nor the Marxist Rebellion, which is against to all the national sacrifices, and leads people to bondage though it was formed in reaction to the capitalist regime (Kök, 1992: 104). According to Topçu, since movement is a combination of man and Allah, it primarily manifests itself in the form of faith and will.
Accordingly, will is a conscious balance between the desire to move out of the human body and the forces that curb this desire. The source of emotions varies from person to person. According to Topçu, he thinks that morality reflects the will which promotes the emotions fed by the sources of science and art; and the will, which is fed by the religion, forms emotions that will provide the eternity through tending towards the true owner of wills; Allah.
According to Topçu, literally, will is one and is the name of the power spreading all over the world upon request in man. The true and full will that can reach its purpose is the will that leads to Allah by passing through steps of person, family, state, nation and humanity. As it can be obviously seen from this point of view, man as a person by getting beyond his own scope of existence, is an entity that can be open to the environment, to the society and to the world in which he lives.
Topçu’s interpretation of the human problem is neither a single human being thrown into the world, nor a slimy person who has lost his personality among the masses, as the existentialists claim. The human type that Topçu longs for is the person who sees his environment as an opportunity and a field of action and establishes his own existence with the will of existence.
NurettinTopçu’s view of education is also in this way. Hence, he states how the schools should raise a human being with the following words: Schools should raise individuals who are not resticted with the burdens of the reality to their soul and minds but the schools should raise individuals with a tool of maturing paving the way for individuals equipped with personality rather than standardized persons of a lore generated from only one machine. Also, the schools should raise individuals by considering the classes formed of methods different than those days’, and affording opportunities for training the individuals strongly with particular mind and effort resulting in individuals who could rebel for injustice and deficiencies.
Topçu emphasized the importance of education for a society in his studies and pointed out that the curriculum of schools, which are educational institutions, should be excellent with their teaching staff. This is due to the fact that a system of education with these characteristics is the only element that enables the formation of national consciousness. According to him, French, German and British cultures in the educational systems were tried to be implemented in our country in the Constitutional and Republican periods from the Tanzimat Reform Era. Ultimately, progressivism, whose origin was derived from the typical pragmatist philosophy of the USA, began to be practiced. This philosophy has given our country the greatest harm by corrupting the youth of our country.
According to Topçu, this education system, which is completely contrary to the values that make us, has undermined our national consciousness. The Turkish society has lost its values that make it its own. To recover these lost values, teachers are the ones who will be trained in this direction. The expected liberators of Anatolia will be the teachers who are fanciful for their own waivers and self-sacrifices, and who are solely the disciples of science and virtue. Teacher, the architect of our moral and personality, is the idealist who reaches his student by sacrificing everything from his soul.
As a result, the aim of Topçu’s moral and character education is to raise the great personalities who have the national sanctity, and who want to attempt to bring their nation to the top of other nations in line with the expectations of the modern civilization. To achieve this goal, the direction of our education must be based on personality, spirit and nationalism. Education is similar to a very subtle art. It takes a great deal of skill and patience to process the finest values attached to the human soul. For this reason, the teacher must be a human architect, above all. On the other hand, the most important job in moral education is to be a model. If the teacher is not a good role model for a child, it is impossible to achieve success in moral education. This is because, being a role model of the moral behaviours to be gained by the young people is highly important.
NurettinTopçu, who unfortunately could not get the sufficient amount of the value he deserved while he was alive, continued to live with his works and ideas after his death. Today, his thoughts still remain up-to-date and provide guidance for educators. It is thought that this study, which particularly compiles NurettinTopçu’s ideas on the roles of teacher and school in terms of moral education, will make an important contribution to the educators.
Keywords: Morality, Character, Teacher, School.