Doctrine and Practice: The English Literature Curriculum at Dutch Orthodox Christian Schools
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Dutch secondary schools are at liberty to fill in their literature curriculum however they want, with only the minimum of requirements imposed by the government. This thesis explores the state of the art of the English literature curriculum at Dutch orthodox Christian schools. More specifically, it looks at the influence of the Christian identity on the curriculum. Going from foundation documents, analysis of material and teacher interviews, this thesis explores to which degree the literature curriculum is grounded in the Christian belief the schools base their education on. The foundation documents show that the schools, the Wartburg College and the Van Lodenstein College, both view the Bible as the basis for the education they provide. As such, the Christian doctrine should be visible in the daily practice of the school subjects. The analysis of the material used in the literature curriculum shows that although the syllabuses made by the teachers present factual literary history, the choice to discuss a significant amount of religious literary texts is particular. Most of all, the interviews with teachers show that the Christian identity is a prominent element in the literature classes. Teaching students critical thinking plays an important role at both schools, but more so at the Wartburg College. Coached confrontation is a concept which becomes visible at both schools, but mostly at the Wartburg College: students are confronted with controversial or modern literature, but are invited to reflect on these texts in light of their identity. Teachers at both schools want to actively involve students in discussions about faith and conversion, and find it very important to do so. However, presenting students with a broad and open literature curriculum is not always possible because of a full language skills programme. In conclusion, the Christian identity is prominent in the foundation documents, but also in the material and the actual classes at both schools. The conclusions of this thesis contribute to the broadening of the scholarly view on literature curricula at Dutch secondary schools, and can be used for further research on Dutch orthodox Christian schools, critical thinking, and didactic approaches when teaching literature.