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Letting God in: The spiritual development of modern Orthodox high school girlsShira Weiss
While there are a plethora of factors that contribute to the spiritual/religious development of individuals during their high school years, the Study sought to investigate what modern Orthodox students found to be spiritually/religiously inspirational in an effort to improve their religious motivation. The Study also attempted to understand psychological development and, specifically faith development during adolescence, in order to gain insight into this critical developmental and formidable stage. During the high school years, adolescents are ridding themselves of their preconceived understanding of religion and are beginning to explore and think more critically and abstractly. Many individuals undergo an "identity crisis" (Erikson, 1968) as they constantly measure themselves and call their value systems and religious commitment into question until they find their own meaning in life. In an effort to understand adolescent religious development, a series of qualitative, open-ended interviews with a diverse group of high school girls were conducted. The female gender was focused upon since adolescent girls are often more "serious" than boys about religious issues, including praying, discussions about faith, religious attitudes, etc. (Hyde, 1990). Additionally, girls at this age seem to be better able to express themselves emotionally than boys and, therefore, are more willing to readily discuss the affective components of religious life (Kindlon, 1999). Five major themes emerged that all individuals interviewed identified as having a profound spiritual impact upon them: (1) Tragedy; (2) Israel; (3) Music; (4) Informal Education; (5) Influential People. Each theme was then analyzed in light of psychological, educational and Judaic literature and recommendations were made regarding how to enhance the impact of these themes in the educational environment, both to infuse spirituality into the formal classroom and to cognitively substantiate informal education.
Social sciences; Education; Psychology; Girls; High school; Jewish education; Orthodox Jews; Spiritual development; Religious education; Developmental psychology; Judaic studies; 0751:Judaic studies; 0527:Religious education; 0620:Developmental psychology
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