Hanna de Jong-Markus

Chapter 3 62 can lead to ideological tensions because tolerance is seen as surrendering to the Truth and teachers fervently wish their pupils to be (orthodox Protestant) Christians. The sociocultural context can lead to didactical tensions because of the homogeneous school population, while classroom diversity is often argued to be an important way of teaching tolerance. Considering the latter, the examination of tolerance as an educational goal in OPPSs shows that didactical tensions are not necessarily at issue since socialisation in a specific conception of ‘the good’ can be especially powerful. It is important, however, that attention is paid to didactical approaches in relation to the specific characteristics of strong religious schools, because, for example, limited ethical reasoning and dialogical competence need to be addressed. In addition, differences do exist within a religiously homogeneous population. Ideological tensions can be clarified by investigating theories of educational beliefs, and especially professional ideals. Professional ideals are important because they provide orientation, motivation and inspiration to teachers. Tolerance can be regarded as a content ideal: it is something teachers want to transmit to pupils. Internalisation of the Christian faith is seen as an ideal aim: it is the overarching professional ideal of OPPS teachers. Teachers could experience tensions because they might not perceive tolerance as a content ideal automatically matching their overarching ideal. Inconsistencies in the general belief system of teachers can exist, but for the sake of good quality education, tensions experienced should be resolved and professional ideals should be congruent. Therefore, teachers might adjust their professional ideals, religious beliefs and/or other beliefs in their general belief system. In our examination of the concept of tolerance and as part of the Dutch Freedom of Education Act, we find that both provide the possibility for teachers to involve their own religious normative beliefs when it comes to tolerance as an educational goal. Moreover, the theory of professional ideals also indicates that ideal means follow the other professional ideals—which is done when didactical tensions are resolved as earlier mentioned. This theoretical exploration thus shows the need for reflection on tolerance as an educational goal for teachers, from an analysis of the concept of tolerance, the nature of educational freedom and from the analysis of professional ideals. Anna, the teacher who is quoted in this article, could therefore be stimulated to think further about what she describes as ‘difficulty’, and to eventually adjust some of her professional ideals or other beliefs in order to bring her beliefs in line with each other. Kole and De Ruyter (2011)