[The faculty of SSU have been reading (or re-reading) Parker Palmer’s The Courage to Teach together this year. Here is a quote mentioned in our final discussion that seems fitting for what we are trying to embody in our education at SSU.]
…Quakers had to invent social structures that would allow their members to do such work with and for each other.
The ground rules for every social structure they invented had to honor a powerful and paradoxical pair of Quaker beliefs: each of us has an inner teacher that is an arbiter of truth, and each of us needs the give-and-take of community in order to hear that inner teacher speak. So Quaker social structures offer community to help a person discover the guidance that comes from within and ground rules to prevent that community from invading the individual’s inwardness with external agendas and advice.
– Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach
[a third excerpt from SSU Field Notes]
Leland: What do you think this thread of discernment has meant for the University?
Lorna: Discernment has been a high value. It’s the grid by which we decide what should happen here, and how it should happen. We listen together. We might argue a lot in the process or have heated discussions or disagreements, but the bottom line is that we do the best we can to listen for how God is inviting us forward…. We’re a Christian university, and it would be easy enough to be anything just in name. But to me, being Christian means following Christ, and we can only follow Christ if we’re listening to what he says.
Leland: And what does that look like for you?
Lorna: I guess it means that when there are hard decisions to be made, it’s not one person making them. It’s the community identifying what the next steps seem to be or what the crisis area is. And we listen in every way that we know how to listen before we make a decision.
– Lorna Jones, financial officer and spiritual director at SSU, in an interview with alumnus, Leland Maerz – from SSU Field Notes
[If you’re interested in one of the few remaining “limited edition” copies of SSU Field Notes (printed by Gaspereau Press) you can order one by sending an email to Lorna Jones]