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Anybody in a Friends (Quaker) school?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
[Edit: Whoops, didn't see that this topic was posted a short time ago...anybody else have anything new to say, please do!]

I've looked a few web sites and they seem like really good places to me. Does anyone have any experiences? I don't know anyone who's ever had kids in one. Most are in Pennsylvania, but there are many scattered over the country, including a brand new school in Portland, ME.

see http://www.friendscouncil.org/
post #2 of 10
Hi-
I'm considering this as well. Maybe someone will come along:
post #3 of 10

I was a teacher at one...

Well, there was some good and some bad.

Quakers come from a strict Christian backround. Most Quaker communities on the east coast are very liberal and have beleives today that are broader than Christianity. They beleive that "the light of truth" is found in all people, which is a great message for kids. Children of all faiths were genuinely welcome at our school. However, a lot of the traditional protestant sub-culture remained. If you failed, it was generally seen as the individual's fault. It was very political. If people wanted to get rid of you, they would call you a liar. (Truth is among their most important values.) The problem with this is that everyone is wronge, mistaken, or guilty of white lies at some time. So it tended to get a little witch hunt-y at times. Once they wanted a person silenced, they started to look for mis-truths and the "victum" was left questioning every move they made. Granted, not all communities work this way, but I think that it is important to remember that the protestent work/personal ethic is very alive. People often think that a Quaker school will be a great place for their quirky kid. This is often not so because these kids just can't live up to the standards that are set- and worse, they are led to a deep sense of guilt because they will never reach the perfection that Quakerism advocates.

On a postive note, these communities are often passionate passifists and they make time for a child's spitiual development and exploration. Children who have NO learning disabilites, differences or quirks should prosper at one. Families who love liberal politics and the arts, too should be even batter matched.
post #4 of 10

Also considering a Friends school

Hi-

We are also considering a Friends school for our 7th, 5th and 1st graders. They seem like great schools from the brochures but I want to go in with open eyes. I have heard that although there is a lot of diversity in the schools, there is also some division between the "haves" and "have nots". Does anyone have any experience with this? Or any other pitfalls to look out for when considering a Quaker school?

Also, what about a child who is not particularly athletic? It seems they emphasize the sports programs.
post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by spiritseal View Post
Well, there was some good and some bad.

Quakers come from a strict Christian backround. Most Quaker communities on the east coast are very liberal and have beleives today that are broader than Christianity. They beleive that "the light of truth" is found in all people, which is a great message for kids. Children of all faiths were genuinely welcome at our school. However, a lot of the traditional protestant sub-culture remained. If you failed, it was generally seen as the individual's fault. It was very political. If people wanted to get rid of you, they would call you a liar. (Truth is among their most important values.) The problem with this is that everyone is wronge, mistaken, or guilty of white lies at some time. So it tended to get a little witch hunt-y at times. Once they wanted a person silenced, they started to look for mis-truths and the "victum" was left questioning every move they made. Granted, not all communities work this way, but I think that it is important to remember that the protestent work/personal ethic is very alive. People often think that a Quaker school will be a great place for their quirky kid. This is often not so because these kids just can't live up to the standards that are set- and worse, they are led to a deep sense of guilt because they will never reach the perfection that Quakerism advocates.

On a postive note, these communities are often passionate passifists and they make time for a child's spitiual development and exploration. Children who have NO learning disabilites, differences or quirks should prosper at one. Families who love liberal politics and the arts, too should be even batter matched.

As a Quaker, I'm really sad to hear that your school was so un-Friendly. I have no experience with Friends schools, as there aren't any in my area. (Public school, montessori, and homeschooling are among the options families in our Meeting have chosen.) I hope all Friends schools aren't like you describe -- that would be pretty discouraging.
post #6 of 10
i taught in a Friends school for a brief time. I'm not sure about your financial situation or the cost of the school, but the most noticeable thing about the students and their families was the obvious wealth. it was a very expensive school (as were all of the Friends schools in the area - there are several) and while i am sure there were limited scholarships available, well, as one of the 'have nots' in a pricey private jr. high/high school, i would never put my child in that situation.

money and consumerism become a major focus, not because 'all rich people are snobby consumerists' but because the wealthier kids WILL have access to more things than the poorer ones. it's a fact of life.

as for the rest of the school? really that was the most noticeable characteristic. it was a good education, definitively Christian (though had a non-denominational feel to it) and a pretty campus.

I used to attend Quaker Meetings and if you're interested in exposing your kids to the life of a Quaker i would recommend the Meetings over the schools.
post #7 of 10
The haves vs havenots did not seem to be a problem at the school ds briefly attended. It wasn't more expensive than any other private school, either. My problems were that it said it was a nurturing environment that encouraged independence and treated children respectfully, yet the actuality didn't mesh with their self description. It was big on children learning self-discipline, but this was done with external pressure, which means it isn't actually self-discipline, just conformity.

I was upset about many things from age inappropriate assignments to discipline methods. A 2 yo child was given a time-out for crying in circle. A 3 yo wasn't allowed to ride the tricycles at recess because he hadn't done his "work". A 4 yo was told she couldn't drink water except after certain activities because she was using the toilet too frequently. Once when the kids forgot to walk in line and broke out in a run, they were walked back repeatedly to try again (outside, 50 degrees, raining). If the 3 and 4 year olds weren't quiet during quiet time, the lights were turned back off and they did it again. This particularly annoyed me because I was told that they didn't start periods of silence until kindergarten and I know that ds finds having to be quiet very stressful and had figured he would have the opportunity to adjust to school before that point. It was a very controlling environment. I was completely mislead and duped by the talk, tour, and literature which painted the school as everything I wanted.
post #8 of 10
We're Quaker, and my DD will start first grade at a Friends school in a couple weeks. (She homeschooled for kindergarten.)

I'm really surprised at some of what a PP has described, it doesn't sound Quakerly at all. My SIL, also a Quaker, went to a Friends school for high school and really credits it for helping her. She has learning differences and found that it was the only school that allowed her to be who she was and thrive at her own pace.
post #9 of 10

just starting our secon year

at a Quaker school. I agonized over the decision to go private, feeling like a traitor to my neighborhood school, only considered the Friends school we're at, no other private schools. We are members of the Meeting this school is under the "care" of, so I was aware of some tension already (within our Meeting) about whether the school is too "wealthy".... the school was founded on the cheap but slowly over the years has gotten more and more expensive, in part to satisfy the demands of the parents (many wealthy) who send their kids and expect/demand new facilities, more services etc. On the other hand, the scholarship budget is pretty huge (and hence, our ability to send out daughter there- even with a sizeable discount we are pretty maxed out by what we pay).

The school is pretty good about trying to minimize the discrepancy between the haves an have-nots. Parents are reminded frequently that school policies encourage simplicity/eco-awareness etc., and for example birthday parties are encouraged to be not excessive. However, I think there's a disconnect between what different parents see as excessive, purely by virtue of their frame of reference.
I am sure as my kids get older (oldest is going into 1st grade) we will run into more "all-my-friends-have-x-expensive-things-why-can't-I" but right now I run into that more between parents. One day on the playground a parent was talking to me about how annoyed he was that the computers in the computer lab were several years old, and opined, "It wouldn't take much- just a few families donating almost nothing-just couple thousand $" to upgrade them. to hear "a couple thousand" referred to as almost nothing stunned me.

Within school itself, I couldn't be happier. The teachers see each child as an individual, don't expect everyone to progress identically through skill sets, encourage values I share, and !gasp! the guidance counselors are able to counsel students about issues that wouldn't warrant much attention at most public schools (even 2 boys arguing over who had a toy first, if the teacher can't help them settle it). Arts are not short-shrifted, as they have been at the public schools near me, and my daughter got recess (twice!) and nap time (in K), both of which have been eliminated in the No-Child-Left-Behind-induced madness in our local public schools.
post #10 of 10
I went to a quaker boarding school in h.s. and really liked it.I also went to a Quaker college. Some schools are wealthy folks, but their hearts and their minds are waaay more open then almost any one else I've met.

My teachers were all great, and I liked meeting for worship, I did have to pick a sport for one trimester of the year, but the other 2 I did yoga and gardening.

I love me some Quakers. They are cool folks.
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