Quaker Values: The Examined Life

The Examined Life

Quaker EducationThe theme of “an Examined Life” is consistent with Quaker testimonies and takes its lead from the school’s mission statement. It also addresses urgent needs in our nation and world to restore honesty and civility in public discourse and private behavior.

The phrase “Examined Life” is drawn from Socrates’ axiom: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The goal of such a life is to integrate a tough mind and a tender heart. Our students go out into the world as compassionate problem solvers enlightened by spiritual discernment, and they are able to draw on the power of their intellects to make moral and ethical decisions.

The Examined Life focus has four components:

Openness to a spiritual life

An individual who is open to the Presence of the Spirit:

  • Seeks to understand the Inward Light
  • Seeks meaning and purpose in life
  • Strives for self-awareness
  • Responds with wonderment and awe
  • Is empathetic and compassionate
  • Is open to “Continuing Revelation”
  • Engages in reflection

In the community, a person who is open to the Presence of the Spirit:

  • Is open to the Light in others
  • Sees the inherent value in others and all of life
  • Seeks integrity between word and deed
  • Strives to serve others
  • Works to resolve conflict
  • Stays focused on important values
Quaker EducationDevelopment and application of personal ethics in the community

A person living an examined life develops personal ethics and:

  • Examines the impact of their behavior
  • Strives for integrity
  • Strives to be fair-minded
  • Works to resolve ethical dilemmas
  • Thinks about what it means to be a good person and acts on this

A person living an examined life applies ethics, among friends and in the community, and:

  • Applies ethics to all aspects of life
  • Examines moral issues in the community
  • Seeks to use power wisely and ethically
  • Will take a moral stand in a group
  • Understands the role of the bystander
Critical thinking

A person living an examined life thinks critically, and:

  • Pursues knowledge
  • Strives for accuracy/clarity/precision
  • Poses questions
  • Problem solves: hypothesizes, creates, imagines, innovates
  • Thinks about thinking (metacognition)
  • Thinks about the implication of data and considers the impact of actions

On the intra-personal level a person living an examined life thinks critically, and:

  • Thinks interdependently
  • Makes rational arguments to support positions
  • Seeks understanding of another’s point of view and their rational argument
  • Remains open to continuous learning
Development of resilience

A person living the examined life is resilient:

  • Copes well with change, disappointment and uncertainty and uses these uncomfortable experiences as a springboard to growth.
  • Develops a connection to the future.
  • Practices making thoughtful decisions.
  • Takes responsible risks.
  • Develops appropriate trusting relationships.
  • Develops self-confidence and self-awareness and keeps a sense of humor under stress.
  • Helps others in need.

On the intra-personal level a person living the examined life develops resilience in groups, and:

  • Communicates well with others, especially in difficult situations
  • Seeks to understand the other party’s interest
  • Can disagree constructively
  • Can construct win/win solutions
  • Thinks flexibly