Two years ago, I sat in one focus group after the other, where one reoccurring theme kept surfacing. Parents, students and teachers all asked us repeatedly to please revive Quaker traditions, values and testimonies at RFS. There was a general feeling that somewhere along our one hundred and fifty years, we may have lost touch with the origins of our school’s identity. As a result, a strategic goal to revitalize Quaker Education at RFS was put forth as part of the strategic plan.
At the heart of Quaker Education is silence and reflection. So, this is where we started. We started with silence, first for one minute during homeroom which within a week expanded to five minutes, then we attempted what seemed to be an impossible mission. We challenged the high school students to sit in silence for twenty minutes, and despite all the doubts, the students did it! Sure, some may have looked around, but there were many who closed their eyes and for eighteen minutes listened to their hearts beating, their breathing gradually steady and managed to reflect inward. We believe that with more training and instruction students will get better at this.
To be clear, our objective is for students to reflect, but certainly not an attempt to convert them religiously. Our hope as educators that if we teach them how to listen to themselves for twenty minutes twice a month, that we just might pass on a lifelong skill of reflection that will ultimately give them inner peace in a world that has become increasingly chaotic. I will communicate more about our meeting for silent reflection and will address some of your questions in one of my upcoming monthly letters.
Dr. Riyam Kafri Abu Laban
Upper School Principal