Hanna de Jong-Markus

Chapter 5 98 5.7 Discussion This study shows that OPPS teachers want to affect children’s religious socialization. Although the similarity of school, family, and church is often stressed within the orthodox Protestant community, this study proved that for teachers the differences among these environments and the meaning of these differences are important as well. It seems that teachers perceive that they add a specific contribution to religious socialization. Their emphasis on understanding can be related to MacMullen’s position: The systematic religious instruction and supportive atmosphere of faith in a religious elementary school are the best means to ensure that the children of religious parents will have an adequate understanding of their family’s religion, so that it can be the object of an informed choice in their future as autonomous agents. (2004, p. 608) When children grasp their primary religious culture and learn the competence of ethical reasoning in their own context, it will be easier for them at a later stage to reflect on the religions of others and to be involved in religious dialogs (De Wolff, 2006; MacMullen, 2004). In this way, the bonding capital of the school can contribute to pupils’ participation in broader society, the bridging capital (Putnam, 2007). Yet it is important that some pedagogical conditions aremet, such as laying the foundations for autonomous reflection and the absence of coercion (MacMullen, 2004; Merry, 2005). At certain points teachers showed examples linked to bridging social capital, like when they opposed intolerant attitudes or when they supposed inquisitiveness to contribute to more respect for people with other opinions. Our data cannot indicate to what degree the pedagogical conditions are met and whether concrete educational practices are in line with teachers’ ideas. However, with regard to the discussions about religious socialization in schools, it is relevant to notice that the religious socialization would miss certain influences when it would be limited to families and churches; at least, in the perspective of OPPS teachers. We regularly observed abrasive views of teachers regarding their roles. For example, in how they describe their responsibility (enormous, but not the biggest); or that they want to consolidate the religious identity pupils develop at home, while they also sometimes oppose ideas of parents. These abrasive views can be clarified by looking at the characteristics of the religious nurturer and the religious educator, which Grimmitt (1981) describes. The religious educator’s role is primarily governed by educational and, as Miedema (2017) adds, pedagogical principles: he or she has “commitment to ‘education’ as his [or her] firstorder activity” (p. 43). However, for the religious nurturer, religious commitment is primary,