My academic specialization is fuzzy logic, which isn’t logic that is fuzzy, but a worldview and method of thinking which is capable of coping with the world’s diversity. Traditional bivalent thinking, the belief that a proposition has only one truth value is, according to philosopher Mario Bunge, “primitive and inconsistent with how the social world is organized” (Winter, 2014). Most social phenomenon, including teaching, is not black and white, true or false, but full of interesting grey variables. I experience this when I’m teaching, because every student is different. My personal educational philosophy revolves around inclusion, and this includes important fuzzy logic concepts like my motto “everything is a matter of degree.” I believe in creating an inclusive and comfortable classroom environment where everyone feels comfortable. This requires mutual respect, cultural appreciation, meaningful communication and a lot of listening. It also means understanding that each individual is unique, and the recognizing our individual differences. Growing up in Turkey, at the intersection of western and eastern culture, I experienced the positive effects of cultural, politic, ethnic and religious diversity. This is part of my identity. I've been shaped by a variety of people and cultures and I feel quite comfortable among all of them.
Today, as a teacher at a charter school, diversity continues to be a central theme of my life. I’ve had the opportunity to see my students – many from historically underrepresented populations - excel. I mentor the robotics club, which competes in competitions, and truly believe I belong in a classroom. My inclusive teaching strategies include treating each student individually, learning about their culture and being respectful and sensitive to race, gender and language. I bring a passion for promoting cultural understanding into the classroom, and use my own experiences to encourage discourse that engenders cultural awareness and creates a laid-back tolerant atmosphere. Embracing diversity isn’t just part of my culture, and identity; it’s my job and I love it.
Outside the classroom, I volunteer at the Rochester Turkish Cultural Center, where we connect the local Turkish and American communities by organizing cooking classes, coffee nights and cultural exchange trips to Turkey. I am also the outreach coordinator with Peace Island Institute, which is a foundation that brings together people from all ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds to foment solutions for a more peaceful world. We recently hosted a panel discussion on the similarities between Christianity, Islam and Judaism. This type of discourse that exchanges ideas and creates understanding about other cultures is an essential part of encouraging and exploiting diversity. The Peace Island Institute mission also includes community outreach to help marginalized and at-risk members of our society.
At RIT, the emphasis on diversity has created a truly progressive learning environment. I saw it the first time I walked on to the campus. It’s a palpable and vibrant energy. Despite its long history of engineering excellence, RIT is a new type of school, with an emphasis on 21st century skills. These skills are not just technical, they also involve the ability to communicate and collaborate with a global workforce. .I often tell my student that their careers will be about much more than math or science. It will be about people. They will have to interact with people from different cultures and from all over the world. I tell them that their true success won’t be measured by GPA, but will depend on their ability to successfully relate and socialize with other human beings. I utilize the diversity in my classroom as a teaching and learning tool, and I think my students understand that their background is an asset, and something to be celebrated, not just tolerated. When I motivate a group of students from all backgrounds and different skin colors to really collaborate academically, I consider this the true fruit of diversity. Civil rights leader Roger Wilkins said “we have no hope of solving our problems without harnessing the diversity, the energy, and the creativity of all our people.” I would appreciate the opportunity to experience and foster the RIT spirit of diversity and pluralism and believe that I also have unique contributions to make to the RIT community, by adding my own strokes of color to the different shades of identity, cultures and ideas.
Lauren J. Apfel, “The Advent of Pluralism. Diversity and Conflict in the Age of Sophocles. “(Oxford Classical Monographs.) Oxford/New York/Oxford University Press 2011.
Wilkins, Roger W. A man's life: An autobiography. Ox Bow Press, 1991.
Winter, Lar. "Hilfsnavigation." RWTH Institut Für Soziologie. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2014.