A Friends Education represents a unique combination of academic excellence and spiritual depth.
Two basic beliefs influence Friends Education:
1) Each human being has a Divine spark or light through which a greater spiritual wisdom can be experientially accessed.
2) Truth-seeking is a process of continuing revelation from multiple perspectives within a gathered community.
These two beliefs lead to a constructivist approach to education, an inquiry-based pedagogy valuing multiple perspectives, and a continued search for academic excellence within a values-centered environment.
Who are Quakers?
Quakers are members of the Religious Society of Friends, a faith that originated in England in the mid-1600s. Members of the Quaker faith are referred to as “Friends,” and Friends worship at Quaker Meetings.
While Quakers are diverse, they all share the testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, social equality, and stewardship. These are often called the Quaker SPICES.
Amish, Mennonite, Shakers and Puritans are separate and different traditions than Quakers.
Quakerism at UFS
Consistent with Quaker values, United Friends School seeks to emphasize the Light of God within each individual. We foster the practices and principles of Quakerism as an experiential part of school life, focusing on the testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Stewardship, and Equality. We accomplish this through participating in weekly Meeting for Worship; weekly Meeting for Worship for business and announcements; studying the history and principles of Quakerism; participating in service and outreach projects; practicing non-violent conflict resolution techniques; and making decisions by finding a sense of unity among the decision makers.
UFS is in a care relationship with Unami, Richland, Gwynedd and Doylestown Monthly Meetings.
Aims of Quaker Education (from the Friends Council on Education)
A Friends school hopes to offer a community that cares deeply about what kind of persons its members, young and old, are becoming, what goals and motives are effective in their lives, what their response is to the high calling of being human. They hope to be communities of those who have, not only techniques and knowledge, but also a vivid relationship to reality, a hunger for worship, a passion for truth, and the experience of growth in the Light.
Quaker education does not seek to inculcate a particular set of beliefs or doctrines; it seeks to nurture a particular sort of personhood – a person who knows deep down that sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing are not all there are to life; a person who, in an age of rampant materialism, has first-hand experience of the reality and importance of the Spirit in life; a person rooted as much in the unseen as in the seen, as much in the spiritual as in the physical; a person who has a capacity for reverence, and who is as well equipped to experience the Spirit as to do work in the world.
This is a person who has learned that truth, beauty, goodness, and love are evidences of the transforming power of the Spirit and everywhere imbued with meaning; a person who is optimistic about the ability of love and good will to mend the affairs of humanity; a person who has begun to develop the courage to testify outwardly to what he or she knows inwardly; a person who has the courage to follow the inward argument where it leads.
Quaker education represents a unique combination of academic excellence and spiritual depth.
Meeting for Worship at UFS
Although there are many ways in which United Friends School’s Quaker identity is visible, Meeting for Worship is at the center. Our weekly Meeting for Worship is held every Wednesday in the Big Room. Every class from preschool through 8th grade and every faculty and staff member attend. Because of the wide range of ages, diversity in religious and spiritual practices, and different abilities to sit still for a period, we begin each meeting with a query presented by a faculty or staff member. Usually, the query is presented after a story is told, a book or poem is read, or some thought or learning is shared. Children respond in all sorts of ways and are led to speak, sometimes with profound messages. Meeting ends with singing. All parents, caregivers, and visitors are welcome.
Meeting for Announcements
Monday morning’s Meeting for Announcements in the Big Room gives students and faculty time to meet, share news, and have a brief period of silent worship to get the week off to a good start. This is a warm community time in which children and faculty feel comfortable to share their joys, accomplishments, fears, and upcoming events. Children and adults also raise community issues like fairness and kindness during these Meetings. All parents, caregivers, and visitors are welcome.
Meetings for Worship in Classrooms
>Each class has regular Meetings for Worship in their classrooms and these look different depending on the age of the children. There are Meetings that are periods of silent worship in which teachers help children sit still and listen to their inner voices. Some classes light candles to help children focus, some have centering jars or rocks. There are Meetings that reflect on Friends history or issues of peace and justice in the world and in the school. One class has a weekly “Bug Box” conflict resolution Meeting, in which they learn to address immediate conflicts, and all classes work hard to learn the skills of resolving conflicts without violence.