Pickering College was founded by the Religious Society of Friends, known as Quakers, in 1842. While we are not formally a Quaker school today, we remain the only Quaker-founded school in Canada and the influence of their guiding values is immense. Retaining a close relationship with our Quaker heritage provides a solid philosophical, moral and operational framework for our planning and decision-making and serves as a unique and defining aspect of our school.
In an increasingly secular world, our school prides itself on being multicultural and ecumenical. Today we boast students from more than 30 countries with a multiplicity of religious and cultural backgrounds. This has been, and is, one of the great strengths and benefits of a Pickering College education. And yet our approach to education, and more fundamentally our approach to how we reach out to our students and our belief in what students can and ought to do in this world, is profoundly influenced by the spiritual nature of our Quaker founders’ beliefs.
Quakerism guides our gathering in Morning Meeting, our use of silence, our approach to decision making, the strength of our community, the depth of our values, and the inspiration for our action.
While the basic tenet of Quakerism is that there is “that of God in every person,” many people at Pickering share different understandings and beliefs in God. For that reason we alter the wording slightly to reflect the educational context to say that there is “that of good in every person.”
Restated, this means a belief that there is a divine spirit in every human being and therefore the belief that all human beings have equal worth and dignity. Sometimes at Pickering we refer to this as “finding the light” within each child – that inner potential that is waiting to shine upon the world. Quakers believe that education is an ‘opening up,’ rather than a ‘filling up’ and we therefore work with each student to find and express their unique qualities and passions.
Staying true to this Quaker approach means:
- Recognizing that there is good in every person, regardless of age, gender, and ethnic background;
- Providing a high degree of caring, compassion and support;
- Developing a strong social consciousness;
- Using consensus in decision making;
- Emphasizing traditional Quaker values, such as non-violence and simplicity as well as the school values of community, compassion, integrity, respect and responsibility; and
- Building our community through Morning Meeting.
Staying true to the beliefs and ideals deeply held by our Quaker founders means continuing to be a school that combines academic excellence with moral depth. All of these qualities are embedded in the Pickering College approach to education.
Ideally, we will be a school that combines academic development with spiritual depth. True to our Quaker roots, our students will be taught, and will come to exemplify, the belief that they are to be seekers of those universal principles in our Guiding Values, Traits and Principles during their time at our school. More importantly, they will live them when they leave our protective shelter and go forth in the world as leaders, ready to serve and change the world.
The outstanding archives of Quakers in Canada for over 200 years are housed at Pickering College. Until further notice, the Canadian Quaker Archives and Library have suspended services. For anyone seeking information regarding library or vault holdings, inventory lists can be found at quaker.ca/archives/our-collection. Many transcriptions of those early records, historic journals are also available on the Canadian Friends Historical Association website.