A video about Meeting for Worship by Barnard College student Rachel Eu (SFFS Class of 2011).
Each week, the Friends school community gathers for Meeting for Worship. This is a time for everyone to sit quietly, not in "prayer" in a formal sense, but in silent and thoughtful reflection. In this way, students and teachers can open their minds and hearts to larger questions and concerns sometimes overlooked in the busy parts of our lives. Students and teachers are encouraged to speak to the gathered community, when moved to do so.
Weekly meetings are held in age-appropriate ways. Children are gently guided into quiet reflection in the first days and weeks of kindergarten. Friends School students attend Meeting for Worship in their classrooms, with older or younger Buddies, or in Lower or Middle School divisions. Each month, the whole school gathers with parents, grandparents, San Francisco Friends Meeting members, and neighbors in Community Meeting for Worship.
Meeting for Business
At Friends, students discuss problems or conflicts in the classroom in Meetings for Business. Issues discussed can range from hurtful language on the playground to misunderstandings about school rules. Most often, teachers call a Meeting for Business when they sense tension in the classroom or feel the need to address a persistent community problem.
In the Meeting, students sit in a circle and are invited to speak honestly with one another. They are guided to speak only once, to speak for themselves and not others, and to listen carefully. Teachers ask students to pause in between comments and allow moments of reflection for each person's contributions. ("Imagine each comment as a pebble thrown in a lake; let the pebble's ripples fade out before tossing another one in.") As students agree with a statement or feeling, they are encouraged to show their agreement through nods or hand signals.
As the teacher feels that students have heard and expressed a variety of perspective on the situation, he or she asks students to turn to suggestions and strategies for moving forward. Often, students will come to unity around a way to move forward. If students do not reach a consensus, the teacher may ask them to hold this conversation in their minds and let it simmer until they return to it at a later time.