“I think you’re right! It does start again after six days!” a second grader remarks to a classmate as they look at the picture pattern on the classroom calendar. Each month, a new pattern is revealed, and this one has been tricky. It shows flags from around the world, and the group has spent days searching for a feature that repeats, grows, or shrinks in a predictable way.
Early in the month, we notice the color red, but we can’t discern a pattern in its use and instead begin to consider the countries and continents that the flags represent. When no country is used more than once, we wonder if the pattern might relate to the languages spoken in the countries, or to the symbols on the flags. Each time something seems to make sense, the sequence is broken within a few days. One thing that has remained constant is the use of red, but we still can’t see any pattern there. Until someone looks in a different way.
It takes a few days for the group to test the new idea, but slowly, the children arrive at consensus. The first flag is exactly half red, and the amount of red on the following flags increases and then decreases in a predictable way. The sequence repeats every six days.
At PFS, intellectual investigation is fed by our Quaker roots. In Quaker meeting for worship, participants recognize that every individual has access to the truth. Friends listen deeply to the words of others and remain open to the possibility of transformation. PFS founders Jane Fremon and Nancy Wilson recognized the echoes between this spiritual work and sound educational practice, and the seeds of Princeton Friends School were born.
Each week, PFS students and faculty come together for Settling In, our version of Quaker meeting for worship. We settle into silence and wait for the messages which are shared, holding every voice with respect and each offering with thoughtful consideration. This practice is reflected in our classrooms, where students learn to pay attention to the ideas and questions of their classmates and explore them fully. Whether they are in a second grade math class or elsewhere on our campus, collaborative exploration and the possibility of transformation are central to student experience.
As they move into high school and beyond, PFS students are recognized for their intellectual engagement, their ability to collaborate, and their openness to new people and perspectives. These habits of mind and heart stem directly from our Quaker roots, and they are gifts that will ground our students as they lead us into the future. Imagine the world in their hands.