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2. Quaker Pedagogy

A Moral Approach to Experiential Learning

“Dialogue on Moral Growth.” Chronicles of Quaker Education (Fall 1998): 3–6.
An interview with some of the members from the Moral Growth Study Team on what prompted the study, how they organized themselves, and their conclusive thoughts.


“Embracing the Tension: Moral Growth.” Chronicles of Quaker Education (Fall 1998): 1–3.
A report on moral growth in Friends high schools, written in hopes of inspiring educators in all types of schools to be more willing to provide community dialogue concerning issues that arise and to allow for moral growth within all members of the community.


“The Essence of Quaker Education.” Chronicles of Quaker Education (Winter 2014): 2.
In 2008, Arcadia Publishing contacted the Friends Council on Education to tell the story of Quaker education through images gathered from Friends schools. An analysis of these images done by Philadelphia Friends schools revealed five essential themes of Quaker education: reflection and meeting for worship; inquiry-based learning; experiential learning; a focus on community in learning communities; and education for social justice and a peaceful, sustainable world.


Galusha, Debbie K. “The Impact of Previous Schooling Experiences on a Quaker High School’s Graduating Students’ College Entrance Exam Scores, Parents’ Expectations, and College Acceptance Outcomes.” Dissertation, Graduate College of the University of Nebraska, 2010.
Debbie Galusha researched the impact of a previous schooling experience on a Quaker high school’s graduating students’ college entrance composite exam scores (ACT oriented), parents’ expectations, and college attendance outcomes. She discovered that regardless of previous school experience (whether private, public, home, or international), the Quaker school equally prepared graduating high school students for postsecondary academic success. All the students who participated in Galusha’s study were admitted into tier 1 and 2 colleges and universities; however, Galusha admits that there were significant differences in the postsecondary schools that the groups attended.


Harris, Kiri. “Using Their Powers for Good: Student Government in the Manner of Friends.” Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools 20112013 Action Research (April 2013): 13–14.
Kiri Harris chose student leadership to be the focus of her Action Research, studying in particular how learning leadership tools at a young age affects students later in life. At Greene Street Friends School (GSFS), a student government organization called TORCH (Togetherness, Open-mindedness, Respect, Compassion, and Heart), borrowed from Sandy Spring Friends School, was implemented in the middle school, but there was a need to bridge the gap between the lower school and middle school. “Town Meeting” was created for the lower school, to be an introduction to leadership as well as a place for students’ voices to be heard.


Kimberly, Christopher R. “Stewarding the Evolution of an Established and Multi-Faceted Program: How Do You Hold Onto Meaningful Elements of the Past While Allowing a Program to Grow in Operational and Strategic Dimensions?” Voices of Leadership, Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools 20092011 Action Research (April 2011): 19–20.
Moorestown Friends School offers an annual one-week program where regular classes are suspended for Intensive Learning (IL), when Middle and Upper School students and teachers engage in an in-depth study of a specific subject, often involving off-campus research. This long-standing MFS tradition — which dates back to the mid 1970s — allows teachers and students to break out of the structure of formal class periods and traditional study for a time of experiential learning.

After joining Moorestown Friends School, Christopher R. Kimberly chose to do his Action Research on the IL program already in place; however, as the student population increased, changes to this program were needed. Kimberly clarified and organized certain operational areas and moved the planning process to take place earlier in the year, in order to provide students with more time to decide which trip they want to take. As of late 2017, Kimberly is working on a mission statement for IL to guide the development of this program.


Master, Marianne. “Independent Projects at Friends Schools.” Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools 20052007 Action Research (April 2007): 20–21.
Marianne Master is conducting research about how to organize and implement independent projects for older students at Friends schools and how these projects might contribute to academic and personal growth.


McHenry, Irene. “Friends Education in a Democratic Society and a Relational World.” 
In honor of 325 years of Quaker education, Irene McHenry, a Friend educator herself, wrote this article about the relationship among Quaker history, faith, and practice. The article begins with a brief history of the origin of Quaker education; it then discusses the philosophy of this new education system.


McHenry, Irene. “The Obamas and Friends Education: Joining a Vibrant Tradition.” 
In this article, Irene McHenry examines why the Obamas chose to send their daughters to a Friends school. Although this decision and the school itself is frequently portrayed in the media as elitist, McHenry argues that the very foundation of Quaker education goes against this premise. Friends education ingrains a positive outlook on humanity and life while also forming responsible citizens in the process. This educational system thrives on open-ended questions, which spark children’s creativity and independent thinking. The environment of Friends schools ensures that the ideals discussed in class, or in the ever important meetings for worship, are practiced outside the school’s walls.


McHenry, Irene. “Sparks and Spaces: Lived Experience in Friends Schools.” Friends Journal (2010).
Irene McHenry believes that sacred spaces—places that foster reflective discussion and intellectual engagement, and, most important, that deepen one’s spirit—lie at the center of Friends education. Quaker educators have the job of connecting the Inner Light of children, colleagues, parents, and the community as a whole. This interconnectedness stems from the strength of Friends schools and Friends meetings, sacred places where people come together to worship. In order for this relationship to survive, McHenry argues that the Religious Society of Friends needs to continue to foster a healthy and positive connection with Friends schools.


McHenry, Irene. “Quaker Education Today: Continuing Revelation.” The Magazine of Educational Alternatives (2010): 57.
Irene McHenry opens her article with a lived experience of what Quaker education is like, as told by a kindergartner. At the center of the child’s story is the idea of respect and learning through a lack of negative judgment. Research suggests that the ethos of Friends schools are perceived as caring and trusting. Further research shows that the processes of reflection and inquiry lie at the foundation of pedagogy in Friends schools. However, despite this picturesque reality, Friends schools are facing a challenge from the Quaker community involving the issue of elitism and affluence. McHenry argues that these challenges have acted as motivating factors for schools to strengthen their core values.


Payton, Lee. “Creating a Truly Interdisciplinary Team-Taught American Studies Course.” Voices of Leadership, Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools 20092011 Action Research (April 2011): 2526.
Lee Payton’s Action Research came from a previous idea of creating interdisciplinary experiences that never previously came to fruition. Payton decided to create a team-taught American studies course that would combine English and social studies courses as an elective course that would provide students with a more holistic experience when learning these subjects as well as allow for more collaboration among teachers.


“Quaker Pedagogy as ‘Deep Muscle.’” Chronicles of Quaker Education (Fall 2006): 4.
This article presents a few key questions and answers from a panel presentation by the authors of Minding the Light by Friends Association of Higher Education (FAHE) and Readings on Quaker Pedagogy by Friends Council on Education (FCE) about engagement and enticement into a deeper, inner knowledge in learning communities.


Sparks, Christopher. “Fostering Meaningful Collaboration and Empathy.” Friends Council on Education Leadership Expressions Action Research (April 2015): 3031.
Studies show that in the social media age children are growing less empathetic. Christopher Sparks noticed this with his middle school students, and in order to teach them empathy and productive communication, he uses digitally created world games to see if the students’ utopias could be built successfully within their small groups. Sparks let the students evaluate their communication patterns using the System for Analyzing Verbal Interactions (SAVI) and Developmental Designs social-emotional learning model.


Swainson, Carol. “A Path Towards Cultural Change.” Friends Council on Education Action Learning (April 2005): 2122.
Carol Swainson began her Action Research project out of an interest in fiscal matters; however, her research switched to studying George School’s curriculum project in the hope of creating a document that would serve other schools that were interested in a curriculum change.


Weber, Colette. “Addressing Diversity Through a Coordinated Foundational Curriculum.” Friends Council on Education Action Learning (April 2005): 2324.
Colette Webber’s Action Research arrived out of her opposition to the idea of a one-size-fits-all approach to curricula, especially those for the first year of high school. Webber’s research describes students’ changes from employing dependent learning in middle school to independent learning and success in high school. She suggests creating a line of communication with the admission office and freshman teachers to adjust to the needs of the specific freshman class.


“What Is a Friends School? Revitalizing Our Quaker Dimension.” Chronicles of Quaker Education (Winter 1998): 1–2.
In 1997, the Friends Council on Education Program Committee revised a set of Friends school queries originally written in the 1960s to become the cornerstone of the new Quaker Dimension Support Service offered by the council. The service offers Friends schools a chance for self-reflection and an opportunity to improve the application of Quaker spiritual values within the school.


Zink, Anastasia. “Raising the Bar: Elevating Student Leadership.” Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools 20112013 Action Research (April 2013): 29–30.
After realizing students were inconsistently being held accountable for leadership positions, Anastasia Zink began working with the senior girls in her dormitory and proposed that each of them assume a leadership position in the school, big or small. Zink helped rewrite the school’s leadership job descriptions to be clearer and redesigned the student leader orientation program to show the students what practical skills they would acquire in their new positions, as well as training the adults who work with these student leaders.

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