Return to Listing



Subscribe to the Friends Academy News Blog

Fill out the form below to receive updates on the latest and greatest within the Friends Academy community.

What comes to mind when you think of Quakers?

Maybe you think of Quaker pacifism or, more likely, the cartoon man on your oatmeal container. 

If your exposure to Quakers begins and ends at breakfast cereal, you may not feel confident in choosing a Quaker education for your family. While Quakers are behind some of the best and most influential K-12 institutions in the world, many people still hold misconceptions about Quaker values, beliefs, and educational principles. 

In this post, we’ll look at the three most common misconceptions we encounter in our conversations with prospective parents.

Myth: Quaker Schools Will Try to Influence Their Students’ Religious Beliefs

Fact: Quakers don’t proselytize

Many parents recognize that Quaker schools have an outstanding reputation for academic excellence and a strong campus culture. However, they are wary about sending their children to a Quaker school out of concern that Quakerism might affect how they practice their own religion or culture at home.

The reality is that this is never the case and attending a Quaker school may sometimes deepen the practice of a family’s own personal faith. One of the founding principles of Quakerism is to welcome and accept all backgrounds and beliefs, without imposing on others. Students may have the opportunity to take classes about Quaker history or its role in the modern world, but it’s strictly through an academic lens.

Quakerism focuses on kindness and community. One of our core values at Friends Academy is the centrality of each person’s inner convictions about matters of belief. We build an atmosphere in which each student is encouraged to ask questions and come to their own conclusions. We recognize and respect that this means we aren’t all going to end up with the same personal and religious views.

In practicing the Quaker Testimony of Equality, modern Quakers believe that everyone has something to teach, and we actively seek out opportunities to challenge our assumptions by engaging with those who have different perspectives. Rather than striving for conformity in beliefs, we prioritize shared practices such as valuing and respecting others. We make room for introspection and reflection and provide mutual support as members of a collective learning community.

Putting these values into practice creates a safe context within which students can ask the harder questions and find the way forward to their own answers—whatever those turn out to be. 


Myth: Quakers have monastic values and lifestyles

Fact: Quakers value community and real-world connection

There are some common stereotypes about what being a serious Quaker looks like. Since Quakers embrace pacifism and emphasize simplicity, one might assume they live a semi-monastic existence and disengage from the “real” world.

There are religious groups who seek to separate themselves from society, but that is not the case with Quakers. Rather, Quakers try to cultivate a different kind of presence—an active, compassionate, peaceful, and reflective one—in the very ordinary world of everyday life. 

So what does this look like? 

Some people may wonder if being committed to non-violence means shying away from overly physical sports, but that's not the case. What it does mean for those trying to live out Quaker values, however, is that a greater emphasis must be placed on teamwork and sportsmanship rather than just winning. It also means refusing to sacrifice respect for the individual for the sake of winning.

Others wonder if being a Quaker means owning very few possessions, but that’s not necessarily true either. The difference is that Quakers try to always think about how their buying decisions are connected to others and to matters of justice, equity, and stewardship. 

To many, the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, equity, stewardship, and service are abstract, pie-in-the-sky concepts. However, we believe they are eminently practical. Young people who learn to embrace them are ready to make a positive difference for their communities and the world around them.

Myth: Quaker Schools Provide a Utopian Experience

Fact: Quaker Schools Provide a Values-Led Community

When many people read about Quaker values and our approach to education, they imagine a learning community in which all is blissful and where students exist in a perpetual state of harmony. 

The reality is this: Quakers are regular people who face the same challenges as everyone else.

The community we create at Friends Academy faces many of the same developmental milestones and challenges that are faced by schools everywhere. We emphasize respect but sometimes see unkindness. We value difference but occasionally encounter ignorance. We strive to be reflective and follow our inner light but sometimes it can feel safer to follow the crowd. 

But if you’re expecting a community that is committed to responding in healthy ways to the ordinary conflicts and struggles of child development, you’ll find it here. And if you’re expecting a community where we embrace a shared set of values and are working towards living them more fully and consistently, you’ll find that, too. 

In short, you’ll discover a place where we are learning how to live in the world as it is while striving to make it just a bit better every day.


Read More: What is a Quaker School? 5 Reasons to Choose a Quaker Education for Your Child


Quaker Values and Beliefs: What it’s Really About

In our experience, it seems that some people worry that the foundation of Quaker schools is old-fashioned and out of step with the modern world. For those people, this idea might act as a deterrent against sending their children to a school steeped in this tradition. 

However, the truth is that Quaker values are much more modern and progressive than many would think: 

  • Instead of seeking to enforce a set of beliefs, we encourage each person to come to his or her own conclusions and welcome the diversity that results. 
  • Instead of separating ourselves from society, we seek to be a transformative presence within it.
  • Instead of existing in a utopian bubble, we’re learning how to be people equipped to respond in productive ways to the problems we all face as we work together towards a more just world.

Ready to learn more? Explore what our Quaker heritage means at Friends Academy or Download the guide: The Parent's Guide to A Quaker Education: Understanding  Quakerism as a Non-Quaker

Recommended for you

Did you enjoy this post? Here are a few more we think you'd be interested in:

Subscribe to The Friends Academy News Blog

Fill out the form below to receive updates on the latest and greatest within the Friends Academy community.