Friends (Quakers) believe that there is “that of God,” or an “Inner Light” or “Spirit” within every individual. Thus, Friends schools are places where children and adults are treated with respect. It is fundamental belief in equality that led Friends schools long ago to adopt the tradition of calling all teachers by their first names. Quakers believe that cooperation rather than competition should be the dominant theme in human interactions. Friends believe that everyone is capable of a direct and personal relationship with God, and so Friends schools strive to be open to continuing revelation, employing a consensus process in decision-making. Quakers worship in silence in order to be open to direct Divine guidance and a deeper understanding of ourselves, others, and the world. Quakers often feel led by the Spirit to speak out of the silence during Meeting for Worship. School community members are encouraged to use our silent worship period for contemplation based on their own religious traditions. Quakerism has deep respect for the religious traditions of each individual and does not seek to proselytize or convert others. Our philosophy encourages students to respect differences in cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs.
Friends’ beliefs are summed up in “Testimonies”, which are guides or values. At Friends School of Wilmington, we seek to live by the following Testimonies, which are often referred to as S-P-I C-E-S. The description below is adapted from Connecticut Friends School:
S-P-I-C-E-S: The Quaker Testimonies
Use financial and natural resources carefully.
We make use of our existing rich offerings such as public libraries, museums, nature centers, and historical sites.
Value the spirit over material objects.
We celebrate acts of kindness and generosity instead of bringing toys or electronics for show and tell.
Keep popular culture in perspective at school to avoid distraction from what is truly important.
We attune students to the wonders of nature and a sense of competence through our school gardens, nature hikes, and hands-on projects that reflect our commitment to fostering a global perspective.
Build conflict resolution skills.
Foster effective communication and alternatives to violence.
See conflict as a springboard to moral growth.
Use the conflict at hand as part of curriculum, asking each person involved to take responsibility for his or her part in escalating tension.
Seek elegant, simple solutions to problems or disagreements.
Encourage creative problem-solving and assume students have worthy, practical ideas.
Make decisions by consensus or the "sense of the meeting."
Empower students to share responsibility for the school culture, using the idea of voting sparingly.
Let your life speak: your outer life reflects your inner life.
Nurture each student's inner moral compass, cultivating inner motivation not driven by externals such as grades.
Treat others with respect and honesty.
Set a tone of high expectations of students' work and behavior, guiding students in the process of self-assessment.
Acknowledge interconnectedness and essential oneness.
Anchor academics in thematic studies and an integrated curriculum.
Draw out the teacher within.
Mirror students' gifts and interests, giving them choice in projects and assignments.
Connect with all members of the community.
Plan school activities that enable students to bridge differences and create a close, working group.
Be our authentic selves.
Create a safe, nurturing atmosphere in which children can share all sides of themselves, such as asking questions or making mistakes.
Balance needs of the individual with needs of the group.
Address and bring to the surface this seeming paradox while trying to lift up those in emotional turmoil.
Teach respect for everyone and the idea that everyone has a piece of the truth.
Gather in silent meeting for worship and listen to other people's thoughts without judgment or comment.
Stretch beyond the school day to support a fellowship of parenting.
Organize events such as overnight trips, all-school potlucks, or the intergenerational Grand Parent's day.
Respect different people and different ideas.
Encourage families of diverse race, socioeconomic status, family structure, and faith backgrounds to apply.
Honor all faiths.
Do not try to convert students to Quakerism.
Celebrate a rich community made up of many cultures.
Invite members of various nationalities to share their stories in the classroom.
Reflect a broad, inclusive spectrum of the global family.
Ensure that resources, books, and units of study reflect this goal.
Protect and care for the Earth in a sacred trust.
Walk lightly on the Earth, recycle and reuse whenever possible, and reduce the amount of energy we consume.
Promote environmental, economic, and social sustainability.
Teach students to appreciate their world via scientific inquiry, artistic expression, outdoor education adventures, and a thorough exposure to natural resources.
Teach social justice and the need for equal access to resources.
Begin in the youngest classroom to instill a sense of social responsibility and service work, in caring for and maintaining our own classrooms and grounds, participating in drives and collections for causes that are meaningful to the community, partnerships with outside organizations, and many more initiatives.
Adapted from Connecticut Friends School, Wilton, CT.