by Elizabeth Wallace
One of the Quaker testimonies that GFS follows is simplicity. Simplicity is the state of being simple, or uncomplicated. In the book Faith and Practice of GFS it says, “We are encouraged to balance our work and school lives with our family, community, and religious lives, not letting busy-ness overcome us.” So is our school actually simple? Is GFS encouraging the teachers and students to live simply?
These days, what I consider a “simple” week is one where everything is normal. On a simple week I have the classes on the days my schedule says, and sports after that. Then I come home and do homework. On a day when I have a game for sports after school, another activity not school related, or even just an unusually large amount of homework, I feel overwhelmed. Usually, I feel overwhelmed about getting schoolwork done, because GFS is such an academically demanding school. Often times when I get home late and have homework to do, I don’t get time to do things with my family, or do anything else that I would like to do. In Faith and Practice of GFS the definition of simplicity is that “activities and possessions should not overwhelm us.” Another definition is that we shouldn’t let our academic and extracurricular activities interfere with the more important things in life, one of which is family.
Look at November, for example. The first week we had no school on Friday, and Wednesday was a Friday schedule. The second week was a full week, but we had open-house day on Thursday. On top of that, Thursday was a Friday schedule. But Friday was also a Thursday schedule. (Note to whoever scheduled that week: It makes no sense and it seems that the only point was to confuse us more.) In the third week of November there was no middle-school on Friday for parent-teacher conferences, but the rest of the school didn’t have the day off. That makes it more complicated for parents, too. One parent reported that they “sometimes drive to GFS four or five times a day” because of their children’s schedules.
One thing to consider, though, is that one reason the school schedules are so complicated and often overwhelming is that at GFS students have a lot of freedom to choose what they do and don’t want to participate in. Different activities require different amounts of time, which makes scheduling more complicated.
A student or teacher’s life at GFS is often not very simple, but why is this? I think this is because GFS has a high academic standard that requires a large amount of homework. Also, because GFS offers so many extracurricular activities for students to participate in that require more time. Another reason could be that instead of having longer core classes to get more done, at GFS we get to participate in other activities, including art and music classes, gym class, Meeting for Worship (which, by the way, is meant to help simplify and un-clutter our lives), and project time activities.
A simpler life sounds nice, but is it really what we want? What do we sacrifice for simplicity?