The effect of Jewish religious education upon character training was discussed by Dr. Julius Maller, research assistant at Teachers College, Columbia University, before the Convention of the National Council for Jewish Education held in Cincinnati.
He referred to the findings of the Character Education Inquiry conducted by Dr. Hugh Hartshorne and Dr. Mark May which were recently published by Macmillan in a volume entitled “Studies in Deceit.” Dr. Maller was recently appointed a member of the staff of the Character Education Inquiry.
According to that investigation, no clear-cut national differences in honesty are found. The Jewish group as a whole was on a par with the non-Jewish group in matters of honesty.
Religious education seems to have a beneficial effect upon honest behavior. Those Jewish children who receive a religious training were as a group more honest than those who did not receive such training. Jewish schools, however, differ greatly in that respect, some of them having a marked positive effect while at least one school showed a slight negative effect.
Dr. Maller outlined a plan of character education for the Jewish school and home. The strongest factor in character training, he said, is a healthy environment where honesty is the natural practice. “In a situation where the teacher is dishonest with the principal, the principal bluffs his Board of Directors, the Board neglects its duties to the parents and the parents constantly practice trickerey and hold up shrewdness as an ideal, no method of religious education will result in growth and development of character. To the contrary, in such a situation the religious ideals simply memorized by the children serve as a sentimental halo to cover corruption and add hypocrisy to deceit,” he declared.
It was learned that the inquiry was conducted with funds provided by the Institute for Social and Religicus Research.