Hanna de Jong-Markus

Summary 177 Second, when it comes to ‘external religious diversity’, 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. Teachers’ definitions of the non-religious or of religious others (Dutch: niet- of andersgelovigen) varied greatly and 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. Third, at several points in the interviews, tensions or contradictions in teachers’ beliefs emerged. For example, in how they speak about religious others, regarding the cohesion between thedifferent pedagogical environmentsandregarding their roles. However, these tensions are hardly thematised or problematised by the teachers. Moreover, the tensions barely appeared in relation to citizenship education or tolerance as an educational goal but more in relation to religious socialisation. Most tensions or contradictions observed could be seen as elements of professional ideals since they are about what teachers want to accomplish with their work, influenced by what they perceive to be their role as teachers, the ways teachers want to work and the kind of teachers they aspire to be. For teacher education programmes this means it is important to stimulate future teachers to think more about the tense issues related to mono-religious characteristics and religious diversity and to teach them how to reflect on these issues in order to have more coherent professional ideals. The quality of education in particular increases when ideals are in line with each other and when teaching practices correspond with these ideals. For several reasons, this reflection is also necessary when citizenship education is considered by future and current teachers in OPPSs, as described in the theoretical exploration. Encounters with religious others can be seen as starting points for reflection and learning since it is often in these encounters that the tensions or contradictions in teachers’ beliefs arise. However, experiences with external religious diversity are rare for the future teachers. It might therefore be valuable to give more attention to encountering religious others within the orthodox Protestant teacher education programme. At the same time, both the alumni and teacher educators indicate that it is necessary to pay more attention to dealing with internal religious diversity that can show up within OPPSs. These ideas for strengthening the teacher education programme seem to be about deepening or expanding on what is already happening, namely that facing each other and reflecting are perceived to be important ways of learning to deal with religious diversity.