Hanna de Jong-Markus

Chapter 4 80 religious climate at school and that of their families and religious communities. It appears that teachers are then especially concerned about Interest 1 as they highlighted the religious influences. Perceived disadvantages of the mono-religious school characteristics Thus far, we have presented the teachers’ interests in the OPPS. However, the teachers also seemed to see another side of the coin and drew attention to the disadvantages of the school’s mono-religious characteristic. Most of them expressed regret at missing contact with people from other religious backgrounds from whom they could have learned more about how to defend and/ or deepen their religious convictions. Emma said, “I … learned that I grew up very protected. [When I came to work in another context] I was faced with myself profoundly. I questioned myself, ‘Why do I actually support this?’” Daniël said that an OPPS actually became “a clique” in which almost everything was being spoon fed and children could not easily form their own opinions. Floris used this metaphor: “A tree that never was in a storm will blow over. But, if a tree has learned to stay strong and was in various storms, it will be rooted deeper.” However, various teachers ascertained that the orthodox Protestant subculture is less closed nowadays than it was in their youth, for example, because of information and communication technology. Ruben declared, “The world enters the Christian school from all sides.” Some teachers showed that they explicitly make their pupils aware of the negative side effects of growing up in a sheltered setting. The second negative effect of mono-religiosity mentioned by some teachers was that children in this homogeneous setting tend to look at each other and find small differences to criticize. Floris pointed out that this might happen because the children see each other so often, in church and at school, and because in schools that are very homogeneous, people do not get used to dealing with differences. 4.8 Discussion The central question in this study is whether and why the mono-religious school characteristic is important for OPPS teachers in the Netherlands. Our empirical study revealed that this characteristics is of such importance to them that they would not work in a school that is not orthodox Protestant. Their choice was often an obvious choice, but we identified three different interests that are ultimately fulfilled at OPPSs: Interest 1, experiencing education as inseparable from Christian socialization; Interest 2, feeling comfortable in the school’s religious climate; and Interest 3, valuing cohesion in children’s educational environments.