Hanna de Jong-Markus

General Conclusion and Discussion 8 143 in society. Teachers need to master this themselves to some extent in order to teach citizenship education and make a connection with the religious identity of the school. Also relevant here is that the results of this study show that the tensions or contradictions in teachers’ beliefs arise precisely in the encounters with religious others. This relates to the finding that, when they imagine working at a mainline Protestant or public school, teachers do not always feel up to the task because they lack experience with meeting religious others and discussing their faiths (see Section 4.7). It thus seems like the encounters are a starting point for reflection and learning. It might therefore be valuable to give more attention to external religious diversity within the orthodox Protestant preservice teacher education programme. This fits with the statements of alumni who indicate that the teacher education programme could be improved by having more encounters with religious others. At the same time, alumni also indicated that they would have liked to learn even more about how to act when different views among pupils, among themselves and parents, or among themselves and the school board or colleagues come up; this relates to internal religious diversity. For the interviewed teacher educators this would primarily require more effort for teacher education to foster an open and respectful attitude among future teachers, to develop strong conversation skills, and to enhance the ability to distinguish between major and minor issues (careful deliberation) in order to deal with religious diversity. These ideas for strengthening the preservice teacher education programme seem to be about deepening or expanding on what is already happening, because in the current situation both alumni and teacher educators also refer to competences and/or activities in which both facing each other and reflecting are important. When alumni look back at their teacher programme they namely identify that encountering fellow students or teacher educators from other Reformed church denominations, the role model of teacher educators in treating mutual differences, multiple-day excursions on interculturalism, reallife assignments instead of only discussions, and knowledge about social cultural formation and church history were significant for how they learned to deal with religious diversity. Alumni say that they have gained by comparing their own views with those of others, and came to understand that they can have respect for each other without having to abandon their own views. Teacher educators perceive that the following competences are significant to the development of trainee teachers during their undergraduate studies in order to deal with religious diversity: engaging in encounters with religious others, having open attitudes and showing genuine interest, conversational skills, growth of personal convictions about the Christian faith, deepening knowledge about religious diversity, and especially making