My mom grew up as a little Amish girl in the 1950s. She went to a public one-room schoolhouse with Amish and non-Amish children. Her non-Amish teacher, Mrs. Rapp, was quite lenient. The children loved her. She allowed the children to whisper during school hours, but when visitors came, she would say in a stage whisper, “Sh, sh, we have company.” The children obligingly bent over their lessons and were as quiet as mice.
The children pledged allegiance to the flag in the mornings just as they did in all public schools. In the 1960s, the Amish started their own private schools where the children would not have to pledge allegiance to the flag or learn other worldly things. They would have their own teachers who would teach Amish values.
At an Amish school, the first thing the teacher does every morning is read from the Bible. Then everyone recites the Lord’s Prayer together. After that, all the students line up in front of the school in order of age and sing three to four songs. In fact, everything is done in order of age. The teacher does roll call in the morning in the order of age. When any grade goes to the front of the room for class, they go up in order of age and line up in order of age. This takes care of any cliques!
The children study math, English, reading, spelling, geography, vocabulary, health, history, and High German. They do not study Science as it is considered too worldly. When Amish children are in ninth grade, they only go to school for a half day on Saturday and study High German. Amish children never formally study Pennsylvania German even though it is their first language.
All Amish boys have to wear a hat on the way to school. When it is cold, they might wear a stocking cap. At recess there is a lot of peer pressure to not wear a hat. Often only the more conservative boys or the preachers’ boys will wear a hat, and sometimes even they will try to get by with not wearing one.
At recess, the children play softball when the weather is favorable. Baseball gloves are considered too worldly. Some of the boys wear batting gloves on both hands so the ball does not sting so much when they try to catch it. Once a year, the teacher and the 7th and 8th graders will visit another school for the day. At recess, they will play baseball against that school’s 7th and 8th graders. Sometimes the younger children will play their own baseball game or another game on the other side of the school house.
This very humble education does not seem to hinder their success in life. Most of them are prosperous and contribute to society. They do not accept food stamps or welfare assistance. Most Amish people I know have a healthy dose of common sense. What isn’t there to love about Amish schools?
I am excited about my new children’s book, Lydia’s Bonnet. It is the true story of my mom growing up as a little Amish girl in the 1950s. This authentic book will be a beautiful addition to your collection of all things Amish!
Sign up here to be the first to get exclusive news delivered to your inbox monthly. New books, cover reveals, coupon codes, first-look excerpts and much more.