Hanna de Jong-Markus

Chapter 8 148 how they stand in relation to society’s basic values (Dujardin, 2020; Inspectorate of Education, 2020; see Section 1.4), i.e. to show how basic democratic values are stimulated precisely in schools with mono-religious characteristics.79 The potentially negative effects of mono-religious characteristics get less explicit attention in OPPSs. The teachers in this study did mention some disadvantages of OPPSs— namely limited contact with people from other religious backgrounds and that children in homogeneous settings criticise each other because they do not learn to get used to dealing with differences (see Section 4.7)—but they barely showed how to account for these differences in specific professional thoughts or actions. The central question for teachers in OPPSs is then: ‘What are the potential limiting factors of mono-religious school characteristics, and how do we account for them in our teaching?’80 Looking at the components of citizenship education (see Section 1.3), the potential limiting effects seem to be especially apparent when it is about the social task ‘dealing with differences’. Because it is self-evident for interviewed teachers to work at OPPSs and OPPSs are valued (see Chapter 4), this reflection might require extra effort. Moreover, the fact that religious beliefs have a powerful effect (see Chapter 3) means that it may require additional attention to ascertain the appeal that non-religious beliefs or professional practices have on mono-religious characteristics.81 I think the teacher who showed a documentary on Buddhists living in extremely high mountains who offered the dead to vultures (see Section 5.5) did show a way to take this into account. She deliberately brought her pupils into contact with religious others in a fairly ‘direct’ way82, i.e. she did 79 In a recent report the Inspectorate of Education also pointed to explicit attention for the well-being and safety of pupils who do not share the views and behaviours that are widely shared within the community in and around the school (Inspectie van het Onderwijs, 2021). 80 I should stress that all schools have to ask a similar question in relation to their specific characteristics. This is especially relevant for citizenship education, because the context and identity of the school have significant influence on what a school should strive for in citizenship education (cf. Dijkstra et al., 2018; Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal, 2019). 81 Interestingly, De Wolff (2006) showed the tendency of an OPPS to approach Christian school identity only from the religious dimension and to say that this also determines pedagogy and education, whereas actual practices in the school did not differ from practices of teachers in schools with a multidimensional view of identity (see Section 1.4). 82 She said in the interview: “Look, you have a lot of Reformed methods. They all contain these very safe stories. In my opinion, many books contain stories that are far too safe. I think the idea of fear is a bit too prevalent among parents and also within the school setting. Okay, it’s safe, okay, that’s it. But I also think it’s really quite limited. (...) I like to watch the BBC Human Planet series, (...). It is about different landscapes and climates in the world, and how people survive there. (...) I think it’s a wonderful way of showing children how different and multicoloured the world simply is. (...) Well, it’s quite an intense thing to show that documentary. I did it last year in the fourth grade. And at a time like that, I think it’s great to talk about it with the children. Because a documentary like that presents it as it is. This is the practice. And then you can talk about it with each other. What do you see happening and where does it come from? And what do you think about that? I think that’s a really wonderful way of [introducing other worldviews].”