Hanna de Jong-Markus

Chapter 8 140 knowing why one has these opinions, and being aware of other opinions. In this way people can overcome narrowmindedness, be more deeply rooted in their faith, and have more respect for those with other opinions. The teachers mention three strategies for stimulating inquisitiveness: (1) have or create awareness of other perspectives, (2) seek more information and thus formulate questions, and (3) create space for pupils’ questions or opinions and stimulate discussions on all kind of topics, while you as a teacher wait before giving your own opinion. When teachers talk about religious differences and how they want to prepare their pupils for dealing with these, they are particularly concerned with denominational differences within orthodox Protestantismor the Christian tradition. In this study I referred to these differences as ‘internal religious diversity’. In relation to the potential didactical tensions that were described in the theoretical exploration, it became clear that the presumedly homogenous population does not hinder teachers from paying attention to dealing with diversity, as internal religious diversity regularly comes up in the classroom and teachers want to make use of it. Perceptions of religious others74 When it comes to ‘external religious diversity’, namely the different religions and worldviews manifested within society, notions about the distinctiveness of the Christian faith are remarkably unequivocal among the interviewed teachers. The belief that Jesus is the Saviour and that people must acknowledge Him in order to enter the eternal afterlife is decisive for many teachers and makes the uniqueness of the Christian faith a very serious issue for them. At the same time, there is reluctance about these decisive statements, especially triggered by encounters with religious others; this is discussed in more detail below. Teachers’ definitions of the non-religious or of religious others (Dutch: niet- of andersgelovigen) varied greatly.75 For some teachers, religious others are non-Christians, while others also perceive Christians from other denominations as being religious others. When they speak about their relation towards religious others, it is in terms of distinction from (Dutch: afstand nemen van), identification with (Dutch: herkenning in), or recognition of (Dutch: erkenning van) the religious other. Often they also refer explicitly or implicitly to God and to society when discussing their perception of the religious other. Teachers then describe whether they experience connection or distance to God and/or the 74 Mainly based on sub-study 4 (“What do OPPS teachers believe about religious others, and how might this be related to their beliefs about the Christian faith?”; see Chapter 6). 75 In sub-study 4 (see Section 6.1) religious others were defined as anyone who, from the participants’ perspective, has a different worldview from theirs.