Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Amish Education, Amish Culture

Holmes County, Ohio has 96 one and two-room Amish parochial schoolhouses taught by one of their own who has an eighth grade education.  Within the Amish culture it is thought that an elementary education, providing the basic three "R's", reading, writing, and arithmetic are sufficient for life's needs.  Amish boys and girls go through the 8th grade or until they are 14 years of age, at which time the boy will be taken into an apprenticeship by his father, a friend, or relative.  He will learn a trade that will provide him life skills for his future.  A girl will further develop the homemaking skills that she has observed since childhood; skills such as gardening, canning, sewing, cooking, baking, and cleaning.  It is interesting that my brother-in-law, in speaking of his 19 year old daughter, who was dating at the time, said that he and his wife thought their daughter was not quite ready for marriage, explaining that his wife had not yet taught her how to can jams and jellies.

All societies transition with time, and the Amish are no exception.  In past years, young ladies, at meager wages, aided other Amish families, typically serving as maids, "maud", at the time of childbirth.  An Amish family would place their daughter in a home to to give much needed help and economic aid.  Today, with the ability to earn more money, many Old Order and New Order Amish girls work in such trades as waitressing, clerical jobs, and laborers in factories or wood-working shops.  I've heard conversation among our relatives that not all are learning the life skills of their mothers and grandmothers.  Higher paying jobs are especially luring, as all Amish young people are required to give all monies earned to their parents until they are 21 years of age.  It, therefore, is a sacrifice for parents to have their daughters help their church members rather than to take employment in the workplace.

The Amish in their strategy of separation from the world firmly stand against formal education, which would expose them to independent thought, and eventually empower them to live outside their traditional community.  Amish do not oppose education for the "English".  They appreciate and pay for good professional services; however, higher education would not be an option for them, as it would erode the very fiber of their community. 

To learn more about the culture, consider a stay at the Millersburg, Ohio Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast.  My husband, Paul was once an Amish church member.  You'll have to come and hear his story why he is no longer a member!

Submitted by Loretta Coblentz
March 31, 2011

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