Hanna de Jong-Markus

Chapter 4 76 common themes, tracing the influences that shape them, and presenting what teachers perceive as the disadvantages of OPPSs. Interest 1: Education as inseparable from Christian socialization In this study, teachers argued that educating children is inseparable from Christian socialization. They could not imagine teaching at a school without nurturing pupils’ faith development, and in their opinion, Christian socialization should be intertwined with all education. As Luuk said, “I chose very consciously to go for a school in which the Christian faith is a prerequisite for teaching.” Floris felt similarly: “Witnessing that the Lord Jesus died for my sins, perhaps, is essential for my teaching.” The OPPS provides opportunities to highly integrate education and Christian socialization. Some of the participants experienced that God himself called them to do this job, such as Gijs and Emma. Gijs referred to Psalm 78 in the Bible, which is a song about the assignment to tell future generations about God’s deeds. As Emma said, “I think that is the task God gives us, like ‘tell as much as possible about me and the Bible etcetera.’” In these statements, we recognize a specific interpretation of the concept of “calling”: the teacher feels that he or she is called to educate the children, especially into the Christian faith. Some of the teachers also wondered whether it might be a calling for them as Christians to work at a mainline Protestant or public school. By doing so, they could possibly share the Gospel with children who normally would not hear the Biblical message. Teachers working at an OPPS with a more religiously diverse pupil population mentioned a comparable idea. For example, Emma said, “I try to fill them [nonfrequently churchgoing children] in as much as I can [with the Christian faith]. Maybe a double amount: On the part of the parents, as well as on my own part as a teacher.” Interest 2: Feeling comfortable in the school’s religious climate The second interest expressed by the teachers was that of feeling comfortable at the school in which they work, in the sense that the school’s religious climate more or less corresponds with their own religious identity. Anna spoke about feeling at home: “I always feel at home at a school in which God is in the center.” Others said that they experienced being able to be who they are. For example, Adam said, It was very important for me that I could teach at a school where I would be able to be myself and could express the opinions I have. … Honestly, I am not someone who can change his opinion, especially not my religious views.