Hanna de Jong-Markus

Beyond Right-or-Wrong Thinking 7 121 7.1 Introduction At least 5% of all Dutch primary schools have an orthodox Protestant foundation (De Muynck et al.,2014; DUO, 2016). Those schools are characterized by emphasizing their own faith and/or community (Markus et al., 2018, 2021a). In society, there is a need to promote social cohesion and schools are assigned an important role for this (Mason & Wareham, 2018; Rissanen & Sai, 2018; Short, 2002; Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal, 2019). For example, this is reflected in the recently revised law on citizenship education (Eerste Kamer der Staten-Generaal, 2020). Among other things, the explanatory memorandum states: “It is precisely the contact with fellow pupils who are different or have other ideas that enables pupils to develop a tolerant attitude towards one another” (Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal, 2019, p. 2; translation by the authors). This raises the question of what learning to deal with religious others looks like in orthodox Protestant primary schools (OPPSs) since these schools have a relatively homogenous populations, based on the religious identity of the school (Markus et al., 2021a). Since teachers are key figures in shaping education, we previously conducted an extensive explorative research study65 on how OPPS teachers think about the particularity of the school within the context of a religiously diverse society (Markus et al., 2018, 2019, 2021a). Overall, with regard to religious diversity, the interviewed teachers wanted to stimulate inquisitiveness among their pupils, because: [This is] essential in order to develop one’s own opinions, to know why one has these opinions, and to be aware of other opinions. Thus, people can overcome narrow-mindedness, can be more deeply rooted in their faith, and can have more respect for people with other opinions (Markus et al., 2019: 520). However, our study also showed that teachers are primarily focused on differences among Christians (Markus et al., 2019). They barely think about what less contact with religious others means for their teaching (Markus et al., 2018, 2019). Moreover, the teachers had attended orthodox Protestant primary and secondary schools themselves and they received their professional education at orthodox Protestant institutes (Markus et al., 2018). That (trainee) teachers have limited contact with religious others in their education, work, and life contexts, raises the question of what OPPS teacher education can do to equip teachers for teaching on dealing with religious diversity. Indeed, it is the responsibility of teacher education programs that teachers are ready to carry out 65 In 2015–2016, in-depth interviews were conducted with 16 teachers who worked in the last and penultimate years of OPPSs. This yielded a total of over 43 hours of interview data. This study was reported in Markus and colleagues (2018, 2019, 2021b).