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How Reconstructionist Students Conceptualize and Experience God

Psychologist David Elkind stresses the importance of making the effort " see the world from the child's perspective." By studying children's beliefs and ideas, we might become better guides in their spiritual development.

Between 1995 and 1997, I surveyed 889 students in the greater Philadelphia area about their conceptions of God. The survey involved 382 third and fourth graders and 504 sixth and seventh graders. It was undertaken to give Jewish educators a picture of how students attending Jewish supplementary schools conceptualize and experience God. 97% of the survey students were from Conservative and Reform schools. (The remaining 3% came from Reconstructionist schools.)

In the winter of 2006, I approached the principals in the Reconstructionist Educators Council (affiliated with the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education) about doing a follow-up study to compare present Reconstructionist students with the original study participants. The principals agreed and, with an offer for aid for computer analysis from the education department at JRF, five schools took part in the study that spring, involving 148 students.

In this report, I will provide the results of the 2006 survey and compare them to the survey completed ten years ago. Subjects in both surveys were given the same four part questionnaire (see Appendix).

I was not able to compare the current Reconstructionist students’ responses with that of their counterparts in the original survey because there were to few Reconstructionist students in that survey to create a reliable sampling size. In this report, when you read the words “original sample” without any qualification, it is reference to the entire sample.

The report includes an appendix with the actual questions used in the survey.

The report is 20 pages and is in PDF format. The download link is below.
Type: Article

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