Teaching time: Schools, schedules, and the Ottoman pursuit of progress

Avner Wishnitzer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The gradual implementation of new pedagogical methods in Ottoman schools during the second half of the nineteenth century brought about significant changes in the organization of teaching time. The first part of this paper focuses on some of these changes and demonstrates that the adoption of time-tabled instruction facilitated increased levels of surveillance and centralization, and a more efficient pedagogical process. The same temporal constructs also served as an implicit curriculum, imbuing students with a keen time consciousness. The effect of the structure, I maintain in the second part of the article, was reinforced by time-related educational contents. Late Ottoman textbooks attached moral value to regularity, punctuality and efficiency and weaved such traits, now praised as virtues, into the ideological agendas of both the Hamidian and the Young Turk regimes. Thus, through the mutual reinforcing effect of form and content, the Ottoman education system contributed to the formation of new elites that identified temporal order with ideas of progress and patriotism, as well as authoritarianism. Similar time-related material was taught to female students in an attempt to mobilize them for the Ottoman project of modernization, while constantly reminding them of the limited roles they could actually play in that project.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-32
Number of pages28
JournalNew Perspectives on Turkey
StatePublished - 2010


  • Education
  • Hygiene
  • Textbooks
  • Time
  • Women


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