The idea of Another School is Possible (ASIP or BBOM) was born in Istanbul, thanks to a group of parents in search of a school to send their children to. Taking responsibility for the need they shared, these parents transformed the idea into an initiative within a couple of months. The initiative was established in Istanbul in September, 2009 in order to set up and open “Another School”. This initiative aimed to sustain the values, which they hoped the school would embody, on the way to the founding of the school.
In tune with this aim, a series of working group meetings were held in March 2010 by initially around 35 people, to build the progress of the initiative through participatory methods. All these meetings, with minutes kept and published online, led to the official founding of the Another School is Possible Association.
The Founding of our Association and the First Amendment to its Vision Statement- November 2010
The first vision statement of our association, officially established on November 3, 2010, was; “Founding a school that aims to overcome the myriad of problems identified dominating primary education in Turkey.” As we were researching alternative pedagogies and education models, we realized each and every one was created to answer a societal, cultural or social need. Thus and so we expanded our dream to improve the education issues of our nation. In the process of deepening our research it was obvious that the issues in Turkey were very similar to those all across the globe, therefore we focused on developing a model that would humbly attempt to solve these issues.
As we delved into the work, beyond being a parent initiative that bonded together for their children’s needs, a rights based civil society perspective that focused on public needs was also adopted. We already had many volunteers, educators and supporters with either grown up or no children participating in the work. Their involvement expanded the perspective to contribute to a public transformation. As a result of this natural flow the vision statement of the association during the workshop held in 2012 was revised to:
“Establishing non-profit schools run by initiatives comprised of volunteers and families which Materialize the rights stated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, ensure that children realize themselves, governed by participatory democracy, respectful of the ecological balance; disseminating this educational approach and provide a model for similar future schools.”
Model Development Studies
Years between 2010-2013 were devoted to model development. At the end of this creation process; together with a variety of study groups made up of individuals with varied backgrounds, needs for another school, relations with education, we created a school model based on 4 pillars. Meanwhile we studied the Primary School Program of the Ministry of Education and agreed that our model would progress coherently with the program. Therefore the BBOM Model was put forward as a framework that not only encompassed it but also transformed the Primary School Program’s approach to the child.
The First Trial of Implementation and the Spread of Initiatives
While the efforts to develop a model continued members of the BBOM Association in Istanbul set up an Another School is Possible Education Cooperative and rented a space in Ataşehir to open a school which would implement the BBOM model. The goal was to open the first BBOM School to apply the BBOM model by September, 2013. Disagreements within the group, insufficient start-up funds led the cooperative to dissolve. The process summed up in a sentence today harbored plenty of endeavors, labor, hope, conflict and disappointment. Although many are not with us today, this initial determination is the reason we are able to tell the story of BBOM history that expands over 10 years. This period, which we are grateful to, has become a turning point in our BBOM journey. Despite being overshadowed by disappointment on the day, it helped make the concepts of another school and community the center of our focus.
Aiming to open a school by 2013, BBOM Bodrum Education Cooperative was established simultaneously with the cooperative set up in Istanbul. Meanwhile, parents with the same motives in cities like Ankara, Izmir, Antalya and Bursa were also organizing and meeting up under the name and concept of Another School is Possible. The news of the set back of not being able to open up a school in Istanbul, changed the plans in Bodrum and the date of opening a school there was pushed back to 2013.
From Idea to Implementation: Happy Goat Primary School and its Widespread Effect
Thus the first Happy Goat school -name coined by the children- to implement the BBOM model was opened in September 2013. This materialization of the idea became an inspiration for the organizations in different cities. Education cooperatives under the BBOM name were set up consecutively in the cities of Ankara, Izmir and Kaş. By 2015; there were 3 BBOM schools (Happy Goat-Bodrum, Curious Cat-Ankara and Colorful Forest-Izmir), 5 BBOM education cooperatives and 3 local organizations on their way to becoming a cooperative.
Serving as the first school experience, Happy Goat became a milestone in the history of BBOM. Aside from creating a widespread effect, the school helped conduce the association’s focus towards supporting teachers. The journey of walking the ‘different’ line was much more challenging for the teachers than the rest of us. There were many eager and qualified teachers willing to work at another school, yet neither their training nor their habits made the job of realizing the idea of another school easy. This was not just true for the teachers. The parents bonded over their need to build another school but failed to stick together, meaning we, as adults, did not have the means to stay peacefully together for a mutual dream. Moreover the struggles between the parents had a poor effect on the motivation of the teachers. We all agreed on what we didn’t want but struggled to define how to transform the details of daily life which ample required time and space. Happy Goat taught all of us that we needed more tools to accomplish the model in our dreams. It seemed mandatory that the teachers experienced through their own learning first, in order for them to create a learning environment we aspired for the children. This gave birth to the idea of a BBOM Teachers Village.
BBOM Teachers Village, New Ways and a New Vision for Dissemination
We dreamed for teachers to come together and mold into a learning community, to continuously support each other in their learning and to have the courage to become the change they wish to see in the world. We designed a program called Another Teacher and went public with an open call. Hundreds of teachers applied. We took the first step, with 24 of them, that spanned over 8 months. Next, with half of the group, we pursued a participatory approach in establishing the BBOM Teachers Village. Hence BBOM Teachers Village Community was born, and is developing and growing.
While the BBOM Teachers Village supported teachers and their learning, it also contributed to the sustainability of the BBOM model as well as making way to promoting the model in public schools. Teachers who completed the training program and became a part of the community, began to transform their classrooms and schools in tune with the BBOM approaches. This new path to spreading the BBOM model expanded our vision once again and evolved our existence from inspiring education cooperatives to set up schools; towards becoming an NGO that contributes to the change of the education system in Turkey.
As this NGO experienced that people with mutual dreams can’t stay together, it realized that we change the system with the tools provided by it. Therefore we obtained new tools in our methods of organization, communication, decision making and conflict resolution. Finally we began expressing our vision as “participatory and peaceful learning communities.”
BBOM Association in its 10th Anniversary
10 years ago in our Another School is Possible journey; we’d adopted the mission to sustain the values that we hoped the schools would embody on the way to the founding of the schools. Over time we became an association that is horizontally structured, consists of life-time learners, and is a community of participatory and peaceful learners.
There are 5 schools that implement the BBOM model, and 7 active education cooperatives under the roof of our Another School is Possible quest in which we promote our vision and strategies to expand it.