Friends first: The impact of meeting for worship on students at an urban Quaker school

Mark Franek, University of Pennsylvania


The eighty-one Quaker schools (members of the Friends Council of Education) currently operating around the United States matriculate students from a variety of different faiths and religious backgrounds. These Quaker schools even attract a few agnostics and atheists to their doors each fall. In fact, the vast majority of students who attend Quaker schools are not Quaker and do not convert to Quakerism after graduation. Despite the diversity of faith and practice among Quaker school students, every Quaker school holds a regular and required "meeting for worship," which generally occurs once a week. The meeting for worship experience is the unifying and ubiquitous practice of all Quaker schools. Though Quaker school administrators don't often speak in didactic terms, meeting for worship plays a central part in its curriculum. It is a required event—much like a class. Children who attend a Quaker school from kindergarten through grade 12 may attend over 450 separate meetings for worship, and often participate in over 300 hours of worship following the Quaker tradition. The purpose of this study was to investigate the lived experiences of the children in meeting for worship at one urban Quaker school. From the students' vantage point, what were the functions and purposes of meeting? What impact, if any, did meeting have on their perceptions of their intellectual, social, emotional, moral and spiritual lives? The results of this study may help Quaker schools better articulate the place of meeting for worship in their educational philosophy and their mission, which, may help them recruit more students and families to their doors each fall in this increasingly competitive independent school market. Finally, this study may help current and future students, teachers, and administrators at Quaker schools better understand, value, and transfer the lessons of meeting for worship and apply them to their personal and professional lives.

Subject Area

Religious education|Curricula|Teaching|Educational theory

Recommended Citation

Franek, Mark, "Friends first: The impact of meeting for worship on students at an urban Quaker school" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3270862.