George School was founded in 1893 by Quakers, a religious group that became well known for taking uncommon stands. Over the years, they have fought for the abolition of slavery, prison reform, the rights of the mentally ill, and the rights of individuals to conscientiously object against warfare. We don’t try to turn students or employees into Quakers, but the school’s emphasis on the individual has a spiritual basis that we hope infuses our decisions, our activities, and our relationships.
One of the most important ideas in Quakerism is that there is something of God (we like to think of it as “the light of God”) inside us. All of us.
The impact of this belief is deep and far reaching. It means making “do unto others” a serious existential challenge rather than a nice idea. It informs everything we do, even the way we address each other. (We don’t use titles, and we think adults and students should all be on a first name basis.) And this belief—that every human being has a wonderful, holy, special something somewhere inside them—makes certain things unambiguous to us. For example, the service work we do is just a part of life, a responsibility we cheerfully accept.
You’ll also notice that our “religious services” are different. They evolved from the belief that every person can have a direct relationship with God. Our meetings for worship, as we call them, are mostly silent. It’s a time for quiet reflection. But, sometimes, as we sit tuning our spiritual dials for ever better reception (or counting the ceiling tiles), we feel “moved to speak.” Students who have spoken in meeting often describe this as a message flowing through them rather than from them. It might be a question, or a statement, or a story, or a song. Those listening can fold it into their own thoughts and prayers, or just let it drift past them.
Of course, even though Quaker ideals affect every single thing here at George School, we are not a homogenous Quaker institution. It is more like we’re over the moon for diversity. And although we will teach you about Quakerism and other religions and the importance of helping others, we won’t try to make you Quaker or anything else you’re not. We like you too much the way you are.
For more information on Quakerism:
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of The Religious Society Of Friends
The Friends Council on Education
The Religious Society Of Friends