A religious community founded in England in the mid-seventeenth century, The Religious Society of Friends (or Quakers) is a group united in the conviction that there is “that of God” or goodness to be found within each of us, which Friends have historically referred to as the Light. Friends’ faith is founded upon the values, or testimonies, of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship (SPICES). These Quaker values provide the basis for a supportive school environment that emphasizes the importance of individual responsibility.
All systems of faith and belief are welcome at The Friends School of Atlanta, and many are represented among our faculty, staff, student body and Board of Trustees. Friends schools do not seek to instill a set of doctrines and, because Friends live more by example than dictate, much of what is unique about a Friends school does not appear in the curriculum as formal pedagogy. Instead, the SPICES can be found infused through every area of the institution, from administrative policy to teaching methods in the classroom.
Students learn to explore nonviolent solutions to problems based upon a fundamental respect for the worth of all other individuals. They also become acquainted with and participate in group decision-making by a process of consensus-building, a historical practice of Friends. Friends emphasis on simplicity discourages competition on the basis of material possessions.
Excellence has always been a hallmark of Friends education. There is no philosophical conflict between teaching children at their individual levels and achievement of excellence in education and curriculum—rather, teaching that looks for strengths of each child ideally brings a greater level of understanding, knowledge and wisdom than any other pedagogical method.
An important part of the school week is Silent Meeting, based on the Quaker tradition of meeting corporately in reflective silent worship, where the community gathers in silence to attend to the inner Light. The belief of Friends that individuals must find their own way leads to respect for the faith of everyone. Occurring each Friday morning, Silent Meeting is a time to reflect upon experience, seek truth and share thoughts with one another. Students and teachers, along with parents and other guests who wish to attend, sit quietly in the Community Meeting Room. Students learn to listen inwardly to their own thoughts. If they wish, they may break the silence to share a personal belief or insight with the group. Over time, students come to value Silent Meeting as a peaceful time in which to think about the values and ideals that shape our lives.