Tony Gurr

Could it be our understanding of ‘Quality’…that is BROKEN, perhaps?

In Adult Learners, Curriculum, Educational Leadership, ELT and ELL, Our Universities, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 12/05/2013 at 10:38 pm

Quality (Deming quote)

If you knocked on the door of all of the 175+ institutions of ‘higher LEARNing’ (HEIs) we have here in canım Türkiyem, you’d be pushed to find ONE that would publicly disagree with the words of Jedi Quality Master Deming!

This is only natural!

Look at all the wonderful communications we find on their web-sites, the messages stuck on the side of buses and bridges, the huge one-page adverts we find in every ‘quality’ Sunday newspaper:

Marketing (HEIs)

Oh, yes…and ‘DIFFERENT’…gotta be ‘DIFFERENT’!


I mean afterall…what parent would want to send their darling, little Arca (or Ayşe) or Dogükan (or Ali) to a university that proclaims it wants to be a pretty ‘average’ school…or worse…is prepared to wash all its dirty linen in publicfor the sake of student LEARNing!

Truth (mini ver 01)

Here’s an idea…

If you are planning to choose a university for the fruit of your loins over the next few months, why not visit and ask the schools to ‘define’ what quality means to them – seriously!

You never know…

Monkey (laughing)

…one of them might actually listen to you!


If they do and tell you something like this

Quality (blind guys)

or even

Quality (Pirsig quote) (1)

…push them – ‘cos these schools do love their ‘smoke and mirrors’!


If the school is ‘smart‘, they might say something like this:

Quality (Winder quote)

…these universities are pretty good at the old ‘alıntı, çalıntı and miş-gibi yapmak’ business!


If you do get a reply like this (miracles do happen – and there might be a ‘quality team’ out there that actually does their ‘homework’), ask them how they actually assess the needs of their students and how these needs are used to develop and renew the curricular they useyou know, to align what is ‘taught’ with what students are supposed to be able to do with what they LEARN…and keep on LEARNing after they graduate!

I dare you!

Handle the truth


If the school is an English-medium school (a HUGE ‘selling point’ for most Turkish universities), ask them how their departmental academics communicate with the hazırlık team (and ‘how often’) – to ensure that the ELL programmes at the university are relevant, meaningful and motivating.

While you are at it (and if you are feeling ‘naughty’)…you might even ask how many Deans or Heads of Department even know where the hazırlık building is…


Then…ask them if their Senate or Mütivelli Heyeti (Board of Trustees) has any plans to:

1) Increase the number of contact hours that the teachers in hazırlık are expected to do each week!

2) Increase the average class size across their hazırlık programmes!

3) Increase the (sad, sad) salaries that most hazırlık teachers are paid!


OK, that was a bit unfair of me…but, in my defence, my inbox is overflowing with mails from schools around the country since I started this little ‘dizi  – and they ain’t about pay increases, I’ll tell you that much!

However (and I will run down Atatürk Bulvarı…and pretty soon…İstiklâl Caddesi…naked – yes, in my birthday suit), if the Rector or Mütivelli Heyeti Başkanı (Chairman of the Board of Trustees) has not also (recently) told the Hazırlık Director at these schools to ‘get accredited’– and sharpish!


Hey, just me…

Truth (mini ver 02)



BTW…if I ‘disappear’ over the next few days, the first people who should be questioned are all those ‘educators’ that carry the heady title Mütivelli Heyeti Başkanı – especially the ones that have ‘interests’ in construction, furniture and paper-products, as well as anyone that owns a ‘dershane’ (yes, I know that’s a long list of suspects)!


Don’t get me wrong…I am not against accreditation bodies or standardsquite the opposite!

I just get a little worked up when I hear schools throwing around terms like ‘Quality Assurance’‘Excellence’‘Highest Standards’…when what they are really concerned with is …

Quality (the real prizes)

…rather than LEARNing – of both the student and institutional variety!


You see…it doesn’t really matter what a university (or hazırlık school, for that matter) says about itself!

Sorry, to burst that little bubble, guys…

What matters (and I mean really matters) is what others say about how you ‘do business’!


What did we say many teachers and students are saying these days…something about covering a curriculum that does not exist…something about Lise 6 or 7

Factory Model TEACHing

So, tell me again…how EXACTLY will increasing teacher contact hours…improve QUALITY and STANDARDS?


For me…

Quality (is a means)

For mereal quality is not about ‘faking-it-till-you-make-it’ by asking (and answering) dumb-ass questions

Standards (books n reading)

Standards (observation post it)

…it’s about asking powerful questions:

Standards (wrıtten curriculum)

…powerful questions that matter!


For mereal quality is not about ‘prestige’ (or ‘beating’ the school down the road)…

Harvard and their screw up

…even our educational ‘giants’ screw up!


For mestandards are critical:

Standards (are good)


…but not when we regard them as:

Quality McNuggets

…to be ‘ticked off’ on some silly checklist!


Our ‘institutions of higher LEARNing’…need to ‘get real’…they need to ‘get together’ (across the ‘whole career’ of our LEARNers – not disciplinary lines)…they need to ‘get informed’ (and really inform ‘others’ – not engage in shameless self-promotion) about what matters in allthingsquality – more, they need to ‘get consistent’!

They need a new ‘perspective’ on quality…and this requires a wee ‘shift’

Quality Perspective (having vs taking)

or two:

Shift (culture of learning)

or three

Shift (transformation)

or four

Shift (creativity)



Truth (mini ver 02)



Joker (Why So Serious)


Well, we have to get it right with allthingsquality

Broken Quality (TG definition)

…and you can take that to the IMF!


But, hey…what the hell do I know?

My citation index in the field of allthingsengineering is pretty crap – and, worse than that…I’ve never owned a software firm…or…construction company!



ONE thing I do know


Canım Türkiyem

  1. I too get a bit ratty when people quote Pirsig. It explains (NOT!) why parents think an English course is brilliant because it has lots of mult-choice questions in the test! I agree with you 100% BUT accreditation is still worth having for marketing purposes. ONLY for marketing purposes mind…. 😉 no Im kidding…. in some cases accreditation can be the kick start that a department needs to promote change. Once the accreditation process is gone through it can give the opportunity for further change and more understanding of what changes are required. It is not the END of the journey, however. That is key…. its only the start.

    Increase contact hours? UR havin a larf! Its hard enough getting hazırlık students to stay in class with the same teachers five days a week now…..

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