Testimonies express in action Quaker beliefs in equality, simplicity, peace and community.
The easiest, the most constant, and the most obvious are the testimonies in the area of peace and human equality. More obscure and more fluid but still an important part of Quaker living and worship is the testimony on simplicity.
Equality: People everywhere are children of God and members of one family. We value the worth of each person. We cannot be easy in our own lives when others suffer indignity, injustice or want. In the Spirit of Christ, we are ready to put ourselves at one another’s side and share each other’s burdens. As we are true to the Divine within ourselves, we respond to the Divine in others.
Simplicity: Friends are advised to strive for simplicity in the use of their earnings and property and in their style of living, choosing that which is simple and useful. This does not mean that life is to be poor and bare, destitute of joy and beauty. All that promotes fullness of life and aids in service for God is to be accepted with thanksgiving. Each must determine by the light that is given what promotes and what hinders the compelling search for inner peace.
“… We utterly deny all outward wars and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever; this is our testimony to the whole world.” From the Declaration of 1660
As we work for peace in the world, we search out the seeds of war in ourselves and in our way of life. We refuse to join in actions that lead to destruction and death. We seek ways cooperate to save life and strengthen the bonds of unity among all people.
… We work to create the conditions of peace, such as freedom, justice, cooperation and the right sharing of the world’s resources.
S-P-I-C-E-S: The Quaker Testimonies
Connecticut Friends School on September 20, 2010
Connecticut Friends School
Connecticut Friends School is built on these Six Quaker Values. For each testimony, below, we list several activities in italics, followed by the way we apply and weave each activity into our curriculum.
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 hands-on crafts such as weaving.
Keep life simple so we are free to live in harmony and alignment with soul’s purpose.
Service learning is a priority.
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 to Powell House, all-school potlucks, or the intergenerational “grandfriend’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 such as coat drives, fundraisers, partnerships with outside organizations, and many more initiatives.
This is a document written and distributed by Mark Dansereau and Kim Tsocanos, co-heads of Connecticut Friends School in Wilton, Conn.