Growing into Goodness
What does it mean to be a Friends school?
In our name, the word Friends has two important meanings: It means friendship, building relationships, being a good friend. And it means Friends education and being part of a community greater than ourselves as a Friends school. Chappaqua Friends Nursery School is under the care of the Chappaqua Monthly Meeting. Friends schools do not have rules by which they are founded, but rather essential ideas and values that frame Friends education. One very meaningful belief we live by everyday is that “We are all in the process of becoming, growing into our potential goodness.” As a Friends school, we give children a feeling of safety to become.
Friends education is experiential.
Children have hands-on experiences and make first-hand observations. Children are actively participating in their learning. They have the opportunity to experiment with open-ended materials without the concern of “doing it wrong.” We do not consider them to be empty vessel into which we pour content and information. Experiential education is essential to Piaget’s thinking, and the thinking of other progressive education theorists that our progressive school draws from. We ground ideas in direct experience, test what was learned by action, then pull ideas out of experience.
Friends education is interdisciplinary.
Academic subjects are integrated in the curriculum, and not taught out of context nor stand-alone. Cognitive connections are made when learning is authentically integrated within pursuit of an interest, an idea, or a theme.
Friends education is experimental.
Children take risks. Exploration leads to discovery through experiment.
Friends education values intellectual curiosity.
The desire to learn why and how is fostered by an environment rich in materials for exploration.
Friends education values respect.
This includes respectful interactions with others, and a respectful use of the school, the school materials, and the earth. Our playscape is made of all natural items, many of which are organic and to be respected as living organisms. And importantly, respect for one’s own work and the work of others.
Friends education values kindness.
It is the ability to consider how one’s thoughts, words, and actions affect others.
Friends education values integrity.
This is the quality of being honest and sincere. It is having a strong morality.
Friends education values students and learning.
Students and learning are at the center of Friends education.
“We found Chappaqua Friends, where the emphasis is on being a good friend, has created a nurturing community where our children not only play and explore together, they learn to truly listen to one another.”
What ideas and values truly frame Friends education in a unique way?
The pursuit of peace and social justice are essential to Friends education. This pursuit is with the purpose of cultivating a better classroom, a better school, and at the highest level, a better society. First define the kind of classroom, or school, or society that is desired. Peace is not just the absence of war…it is about day-to-day relationships. A treasure in Friends education is that we value relationships and relationship building.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said: Peace is not a distant goal that we seek, but the means by which we arrive.
Simplicity is valued in Friends education. We can see the simplicity evident in the setting of the school building. In its most elemental form, simplicity lays bare what is important. We ask the question: Do we spend our time and energy doing what is truly worthwhile?
Friends education is about stewardship. It is about how we relate to the natural world. We ask the question: Do we act to preserve the natural world? With young children who are 2-, 3-, and 4-years old, we begin by empowering them to love the earth and all its organic and inorganic natural elements. Once the young children develop a love for the earth, then they can become stewards when it is their time to do so.
Friends education is a values based learning community. We are all growing into goodness. Values that are integral to Friends educations are: honesty, compassion, integrity, commitment, and courage. There is a commitment to ethical conduct.
Friends education is about becoming.
We are all in the process of becoming, growing into our potential goodness.
In Friends schools there is a commitment to fostering the process of becoming, and expanding the vision of who an individual might become. The foundation of Friends educational experience is built on the ideal that the students’ quality of character – what kind of people they are becoming – is as important to their lives as their intellectual growth.
Friends education describes the teacher within every individual, placing great importance on each individual person. It is within the mission of every Friends school to empower the teacher within each member, all students and faculty.
The teacher within:The teacher within –
• Seeks truth…and believes that each person has the capabilities to join that pursuit with others.
• Learns in order to serve others.
• Takes responsibility for one’s own learning…and rises to challenges encountered