This thesis deals with the ftmction of Dutch public education in a society that is characterised by trends like individualisation, secularisation and cultural pluralism. Public education in Holland can be distinguished from its private counterpart by three main characteristics. First, public schools are govemed by municipalities. Second, public schools are accessible to all children. Third, public schools are supposed to be neutral with respect to teaching. These characteristics are laid down in the constitution and in educational laws. Of special importance is the last Primary Education Act of 1981 in which it is stated that public schooling should pay attention to the diversity of religious and societal values, while stressing the importance of this diversity. In this thesis this formal goal is taken as the starting point for an empirica! analysis of the actual identity of public education. In chapter one we have formulated several research questions: (1) What can be said about the perceived and actual identity of public schools in the past? (2) How is the identity of public schools perceived by key persons and organisations involved in educational policy? (3) How is the identity of public schools perceived by the school principals in the educational practice? ( 4) In what way do public schools pay attention to the diversity of society and how can we explain the differences between these schools? (5) In what way do public schools teachers pay attention to the diversity of society in their ciassroom and how can we explain the differences between these teachers? (6) To what extent do the Dutch people value the diversity paid to society in Dutch schools, bath public and private? Chapter two explains the methods necessary for tackling these questions and provides an overview of the data gathered. The first research question is answered in the chapters three till six. It is shown that the main images of public education that have appeared in time can be described as reformed, general christian, neutral and pluralistic. The reformed public school appeared from 1600 till 1800. From 1800 till 1900 the public school could be described as a general christian school, while in the period from 1900 till 2000 the public school had mainly a neutral character. From 2000 onwards the main image of public education is supposed to be a pluralistic one. Every image is in practice preceded by a period of about 50 years in which a debate takes place about the perceived identity of public schooling. Besides the main images of the public schools, in every period their have been many farms in which public schools were dealing with the demands of society. In general it can be stated that the public school, like a chameleon, adjusts its identity to the religious, ethnic and social characteristics of the environment. The second research question is dealt with in chapter seven. In accordance with the views of 30 key persons from the world of educational policy and the documents that are produced by the organisations of public education, an extensive list of indicators is developed that gives a picture of the perceived identity of public schooling. This list will he used in the following chapters to describe the actual identity of public education. Before we take up this task we present in chapter eight the identity as it is perceived by the school principals of 382 public and private schools for primary education. The main answer to the third research question is that only a small percentage of the Dutch schools define their identity in terros of a view of life, while the main stream of primary schools describe their identity in relation with educational choices. Public schools that operate in an environment in which they have a minority position, tend to he more aware of their special identity then schools that are functioning in different surroundings. The fourth research question is answered in chapter nine. The empirica! data in this case are provided by 85 school principals who were interviewed about the actual identity of their schools. Analysis shows that in the Netherlands four types of public schools can he distinguished. These schools, that can he classified on a religious and a cultural dimension, are named neutra!, traditional ( or christian-national), multicultural and pluralistic. Like it happened in the past, the aceurenee of these types must he seen in relation with the religious, ethnic and socio-cultural characteristics of the school environment. Traditional schools appear in protestant surroundings, neutral schools in Roman Catholic surroundings, multicultural schools in culturally heterogeneaus and secular big cities with a high percentage of ethnic groups, and pluralistic schools in religiously heterogeneaus small cities with hardly any ethnic diversity. Chapter ten contains the answers to research question five. On the basis of the answers of 237 teachers of public primary schools a multivariate model is developed that presents seven factors that are important for a substantial attention paid to the diversity of society in the classroom. These factors are: a specific didactica! approach, knowledge about religion and culture, a nonneutral view on education, an intrinsic orientation towards education, teaching in higher groups, frequent contacts with parents and a high number of contacts with extemal organisations with a politica! or cultural goal. In general however the attention paid to the plural society is less than one would expect according to the goals stated in Primary Education Act. The final research question is dealt with in chapter eleven. The need for pluralistic education among a sample of 980 Dutch people is quite big. Their preferences coincided with the actual choices made by the public school teachers. The demand for public education is also quite high, especially in comparison to the demand for denominational and private-neutral schooling. The need for public education can however explain only in part the need for pluralistic schooling. In the final chapter of this thesis some conclusions are drawn about the function of public education in a plural society.

Additional Metadata
Keywords openbaar onderwijs, Nederland, Public schools, Education and state, Netherlands
Promotor J.M.G. Leune
Publisher Erasmus University Rotterdam
Sponsor Het onderzoek waarop dit proefschrift is gebaseerd, werd gesubsidieerd door het Instituut voor Onderzoek van het Onderwijs (SVO) te 's-Gravenhage en ondersteund door het Contactcentrum voor de Bevordering van Openbaar Onderwijs (CBOO) te 's-Gravenhage.
ISBN 978-90-01-16020-3
Persistent URL hdl.handle.net/1765/78257
Braster, J.F.A. (1996, June 13). De identiteit van het openbaar onderwijs. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/78257