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Expressing Otherness in Interreligious Classroom Communication. Empirical Research into Dialogical Communication in Religiously Pluriform Learning Situations in Catholic Primary Schools

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This qualitative research investigates the degree in which pupils, who belong to different religions, express their religious otherness in dialogical communication, the degree in which teachers offer them room to do so and the views on religious pluralism that teachers use to this end. Otherness refers to the relation of the I with himself and with the other. The expressions of otherness of both teachers and pupils in nine lessons on interreligious communication were analysed by means of the Taxonomy of Verbal Response Modes, an instrument to describe interactions between people as conveyed in language. In addition interviews were used to investigate which views on religious pluralism the teachers use in interreligious communication. The main conclusion of the research is that both teachers and pupils do express otherness in interreligious communication, be it to a limited extent. The teachers and pupils that participated in the research appeared to feel a certain shyness to express otherness. This shyness can perhaps be explained by the educational context in which the interreligious communication took place. It is characterized by forces that wish to impose limitations to otherness in order to guarantee a maximum of comprehension and by the concept of religion that teachers use, which focuses on expressing similarities between religions rather than on expressing religious otherness.

Affiliations: 1: Radboud University Nijmegen; 2: University of Amsterdam

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