The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Quaker presence in the academic curriculum

According to Professor of English and Quaker Jim Hood, the presence of Quakerism in the curriculum is implicit as opposed to explicit. “The presence of Quakerism (at Guilford) is largely implied, not direct, and that’s the way it should be,” said Hood. “Quakerism should most be caught, not taught here at the college. It should inform everything we do but not become a creed to which we must subscribe.”

According to Coordinator of the First-Year Program Clay Harshaw, Quakerism is not directly addressed in every class, but is implicitly present.

“Guilford’s five academic principles were developed through Quaker principles,” said Harshaw. “Quaker values are the foundation of Guilford’s academic principles.”

The five principles are innovative, student-centered learning, challenge to engage in creative and critical thinking, cultural and global perspectives, values and the ethical dimension of knowledge, and focus on practical application: vocation and service to the larger community.”

“Especially the principles on the ethical dimension of knowledge and the importance of community service are very much grounded in Quaker values,” said Harshaw.

Don Smith, a Quaker and assistant professor of physics, said that Quakerism has a strong presence in some classrooms, even in non-religious courses.

“The other day in my physics class, we had a class discussion on the ethics of nuclear power,” said Smith. “You won’t find that in many other colleges.”

President Kent Chabotar, also a professor of political science, said that an upcoming college course on the moral values of capitalism will also include the Quaker outlook on money and markets in relation to Quaker values.

“Quakerism isn’t a required aspect of our curriculum, so how much it is incorporated is really left up to faculty discretion,” said senior Laura Herman, a member of the Quaker Leadership Scholars Program (QLSP). “You can go through your four years at Guilford without really understanding Quakerism.”

Students who are not involved in QLSP are not required to study Quakerism as a part of their minor, and often do not get direct exposure to Quakerism, since its presence in the classroom is generally subtle.

Sophomore Patrick Hyland said that the only direct exposure that most students get to Quakerism is through First-Year Experience (FYE) lab.

One of the goals of the FYE lab is to get students acquainted with Quakerism, but for most students, this is the only time at Guilford that they are directly exposed to Quakerism.

During the FYE lab, a one-credit class that is mandatory for first-years, instructors and speakers do inform the students about Quakerism and how it relates to Guilford’s core values, but only briefly.

“Many students in FYE lab don’t know anything about Quakerism,” said Harshaw. “Our main thing is to try to get them to understand some basic aspects. But FYE is just the starting point. “

“Max Carter a few years back had written a book, it was looking at the Quaker testimonials and the five aspects,” Harshaw said, who also teaches an FYE lab. “We abridged it because it is a very long piece.” He also said this is what the teachers go over with their classes.

Head soccer coach and FYE lab instructor Jeff Bateson said that classes jointly meet and listen to a Quaker speaker, or have a Quaker student talk to the students. He said that his class relates more to student speakers.

Bateson said that he has taught Quakerism “basically in one class period for the past two years” because of time constraints.

According to Harshaw, in order to determine the curriculum for the lab, all FYE lab teachers meet and discuss how they feel they should teach Quakerism. However, after they meet, the teachers decide what to focus on.

First-year Ryan Joy was asked if he could name the core values and he said that he couldn’t.

“Max came in and talked to us about Quakerism (during FYE lab),” said Joy. “The only way I could really understand Quakerism is if I went to a Quaker service. I know some basics but I don’t really know how it works.” QLSP

Junior Rebecca Sullivan, a QLSP member, said that it is hard for an FYE lab teacher to teach Quakerism because they themselves have very little knowledge of it.

Sullivan said that the only way it will be effective is if someone knowledgeable like Max Carter teaches the students, but that he could not possibly teach that many classes.

“Did you learn anything in FYE lab?” asked Sullivan. “Most people just glaze over it.”

There is no final exam on Quakerism at the end of lab, which makes it difficult for students to retain the information.

“The frustrating thing about FYE lab is that it’s a lecture-based program,” said Herman, who has assisted Campus Ministry Coordinator Max Carter in speaking to the FYE labs on Quakerism. “There’s no real focus on class participation and it kind of feels like we’re talking to a brick wall. There are definitely some students who are interested in Quakerism but this way doesn’t really excite them. It doesn’t give it justice.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Guilfordian intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Guilfordian does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Guilfordian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *