The Pillars: Part II

In 1998 the Friends Council on Education (FCE), the US-based Quaker association of independent schools, published a study entitled, “Embracing the Tension: The Evidence for Conflict as the Locus of Moral Growth.” This document was the result of a study done by FCE on “the structures and processes that make Friends schools deliberate moral communities.”

The study was undertaken in part because Friends (Quakers) “have always assumed that the core purpose of their schools is moral education, but they have done little to study or quantify how that is accomplished.” With 24 Quaker high schools participating in the study, Pickering College was the only Canadian school involved as a participant. And that is because Pickering College is the only Quaker-founded independent school in all of Canada.

Among the many findings of the study was the identification of a common set of specific core values that was found in virtually every school in the study that were deemed to be relevant to creating a climate where moral growth is nurtured. The values included:

               honesty/integrity

               courage

               concern for others/caring/compassion

               acceptance/equality/diversity

               self-reflection

               community

               listening/patience/openness

               responsibility

 

As a result of these findings, in 2000 Pickering College identified these 16 values as our Guiding Values and for the next number of years, explicitly addressed the manner in which we incorporated them into our school life, curriculum, decision-making, discipline and communication.

All of this leads to a follow-up of the names of the Pillars that I wrote about in last week’s blog. I mentioned that prior to 1975, the names of the Pillars were Wisdom, Loyalty, Kindness and Honesty. Here are my comments on the importance of those names to our Guiding Values:

Wisdom, which conveys our purpose as a school – not only to gain knowledge, but to be judicious and prudent in our application of that knowledge in order to make a difference in the world – and in so doing focus on values such as Listening, Patience and Self Reflection.

Loyalty, which hearkens to the words of the Athenian Youth – that we will never bring disgrace to this, our city – and thus espouses the values of Courage, Equality, Respect and Responsibility.

Kindness, which addresses our Quaker ideals of seeking “good ness in every person” through the values of Acceptance, Caring, Compassion, Concern for Others and Diversity.

And Honesty, which reflects the ultimate purpose of education – the search for Truth – and therefore our values of Honesty, Integrity, and Openness.

Like all Quaker schools, Pickering College strives to be a moral school; this may be the most important thing we do. But it does not just happen by chance. Whether it is our symbols, like the Pillars, or our values-based curriculum, or our gatherings such as Morning Meeting, all of these things contribute to creating good people who will become the next generation of leaders.