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quaker education

Quaker School Near Philadelphia

Education isn’t just about imparting knowledge to children — every school day is an opportunity to help them develop the skills and fortitude they need to not only succeed in the world but also to live according to their values. With so much depending on children’s pre- K through 12 education, you understandably want to find an environment that is best suited to your child’s and family’s needs.

Here at Abington Friends School, we offer families a safe and nurturing community for children to learn and grow, not just as academic students but also as spiritual and emotional beings. Our approach to education is guided by the long history of learning with a purpose that is the AFS legacy.

What is a Quaker School?

Many private educational institutions are founded on religious principles; their respective doctrines are incorporated into the curriculum and shape the schools’ approach to communication, community, and discipline. A Quaker school is guided by the religious teachings of the Religious Society of Friends, colloquially called Quakers.

The Abington Friends School offers this type of education from preschool through high school. Critical inquiry is a deeply held Quaker value and informs our instruction; students are encouraged to be curious about the world they live in, ask questions, and develop creative solutions.

When Did Quaker Education Begin?

The first Friends School was founded in the late 1600s as a way to educate Quaker children separate from the Anglican and Catholic religious influences often found in English schools at the time. These schools focused on biblical study and scientific learning, with an emphasis on nature. As more schools were established and educational centers spread beyond England, other subjects were added to the curriculum, including music, art, and theater.

The early schools were mostly an extension of Friends Meetings, which is where members gather for worship. However, many schools became separate entities throughout the centuries, although many, including Abington Friends School, still hold Meetings. In fact, all students in each division gather weekly for Meeting for Worship, which serves as a time for community members to be still, to listen, to reflect, and to share their thoughts with others.

How Does the Quaker Approach to Education Differ From Other Schools? Guided as we are by Quaker principles, our approach to education isn’t solely academic. One of the core beliefs of the Religious Society of Friends is that every person, regardless of age, creed, gender, economic status, or social position, has the Light of the Divine. We aim to nurture that Light and teach students how to use their gifts to grow that Light in others.

In keeping with Friends’ values, AFS places a high premium on learning through inquiry, experience, and reflective practices. Collaboration and opportunities for creativity are built into classroom activities. We seek to foster each student’s strengths and to “hold students in the light” as we find ways to develop and teach for their growth and development.

Every child has special gifts that can change the world if encouraged and developed. While many schools are fixated on test scores, we believe that helping children discover their talents and strengths is part and parcel of a successful education. We welcome the different ideas and perspectives students hold and work to create an environment where each member of our community feels valued.

What are the Principles That Guide Quaker Education?

As a Quaker (or Friends) school, Abington Friends School incorporates the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship into the daily life and education of our students. In addition to these testimonies, AFS honors the value that Quakers place on social justice, social action, and reflective practices.

So what exactly do these testimonies mean? These six principles can be broken down into these simple ideas:

• Integrity: We believe in doing what is right in every circumstance and holding ourselves to a high standard of accountability.

• Stewardship: The gifts we have must be carefully nurtured and used wisely.

• Simplicity: Life is complicated, but focusing on the essentials through silent reflection can help us understand what is truly important.

• Equality: Every person is deserving of respect, and differing viewpoints are an opportunity to learn, grow, and change.

• Peace: The community flourishes when conflicts are resolved peacefully.

• Community: Collaboration and mutual respect are crucial to supporting a vibrant community.

Whenever appropriate, we also practice Quaker decision-making. Through clerked meetings, use of silence and reflection queries based on community welfare, and the creation of spaces that allow everyone’s voice to be heard, we try to make decisions that represent the whole community.

Who Can Attend a Quaker School?

Anyone is welcome to attend a Friends School. We have many students who are not of the Quaker faith but share our values, goals, and mission.

How Do You Know If a Quaker Education is Right for Your Child?

Parents who value purposeful education weaved into the curriculum, opportunities for real-world experiential learning and school culture with a spiritual mission can find a good fit at Abington Friends School. If you have a strong belief in community involvement and the development of children as critically thinking individuals, then your child will likely flourish here. For more information, you can contact us at 215-886-4350 or go online.