Amish Education Assignment

Amish Education Assignment Words: 4006

Preface „The aim of education is the knowledge not of fact, but of values. “1 (D. Inge) According to Inge we therefore need to stress the system of values at school instead of trying to supply our youth with as much factual knowledge as possible. But where is to draw the line between needed and superfluous knowledge? This quote clearly emphasizes that education is, and has always been, a highly controversial issue. The paper concentrates on “one of America’s most misunderstood communities”2 – The Old Order Amish – and their peculiar system of education.

It informs on the contemporary regulations and the historical approaches towards the right of having an own Amish system. The Amish society is an Anabaptist community which preserves the lifestyle of the late 17th century. The name of this movement was obtained from its European founder Jacob Amman3. Its largest settlements are situated in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana. They maintain life apart from modern machinery and electricity, and separate from any other modern societies. To sustain this , they created an individual Amish educational system.

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The goal of this work is to answer the question whether the right for particular Amish schools forms the base for the survival of this unique society. 1 2 3 Quote by Dean William R. Inge (1860-1954); English author, Anglican priest and professor of divinity at Cambridge Review by Philadelphia Inquirer on back of cover of “Amish Society” by J. A. Hostetler Jacob Amman (1656-1730), founder of the Amish movement through a schism in 1693 in Emmental (Switzerland) 2 II The Amish Educational System The Amish refuse to send their children to public schools. Therefore each community has its own one-room parochial school.

The students attend first to eighth grade at the Amish schools. Usually they are taught by young, unmarried women who have received no teaching training. “After eighth grade, students polish their German language skills and take vocational classes at private homes, keeping journals of their lessons. ” (Sharper, J. ) At the age of 14 formal education is finished. 1. Content of the Education 1. 1. The Amish Values Factual knowledge and competition is not the centre of attention at Amish schools. The teacher rather emphasizes discipline, basic values and rules for human interaction.

Scholars4 are motivated by the concern for other people and are often supported by numerous adults throughout their socialization. The Amish value “humility, forgiveness, admission of errors, sympathy, responsibility and appreciation of work”(J. A. Hostetler, p. 174). These attitudes are frequently rewarded and disobedience maybe punished. But this may only be taken into action by the parents, as the primary initiators of the child’s socialization. Its development is also influenced by the community as it is encouraged to assist others and to acknowledge role-models in order to grow a group identity which is essential for small societies. . 2. The Three5 R’s Old Order Amish parochial schools aim for unique goals within their curriculum. The three R’s are basic academic patterns scholars need to learn: a) Reading The students are to develop skills in “word recognition and comprehension [… ] using basal readers published by a religious publishing house”(M. Ediger). b) Writing The scholars are encouraged to acquire the “writing of ideas, including spelling, handwriting, and punctuation” (M. Ediger). c) Arithmetic – Basic arithmetic skills like “addition, subtraction, multiplication, [… ] percentages, ratios, [… ] and conversion of measures and weights” (J.

A. Hostetler, p. 181) are taught. The children receive no instructions to newer math. 4 Scholars are children between the ages of six and fifteen who attend Amish schools. 5 In M. Edigers “Examining the merits of old order Amish education”, there is a fourth R mentioned: Religion. 3 According to M. Edigers researches in his article “Examining the merits of old order Amish education”, there is a fourth R: Religion. In his eyes, religion is a basic goal of Amish schools, as it is “essential to Old Order Amish culture” (M. Ediger). Against all other skills, religion is taught by studying the Bible in German6 language. 2.

The Amish Schoolhouse Amish schools are typically one-room-schools and therefore consisting of only one7 classroom. Besides the classroom the house usually has an “entrance room, sometimes a bookroom, and newer schools may have a finished basement where the children play during inclement weather. ” (J. A. Hostetler, p. 178) The building however has no electricity. The teacher is therefore dependent on natural light through windows which is why the house is built to gain complete favour of the sunlight. Some of the community owned buildings were once bought from the state and modified in order to meet Amish standards.

Nowadays by Amish community members. the Amish built their schools themselves to give them a more homelike atmosphere. The needed land is mainly donated Picture 1: An Amish schoolhouse 3. Organization of Amish Schools Picture 2: An Amish classroom Amish schools are “operated by the parents of a local church district and not by a centralized organization. ” (J. A. Hostetler, p. 178) Like public American schools, these schools are administered by a school board8. This board can either be elected by community members or 6 In Amish societies “German is the language of preaching services conducted [… in Old Order Amish homes” (M. Ediger). 7 Sometimes they may have a second classroom. 8 A school board is an elected committee which takes over administrative tasks in order to determine the educational policy of the school district. (Often also referred to as the Board of Education) 4 by the church. It usually consists of three to six members. Each member has to do to a certain job: a) One member serves as president of the board. b) Each board has to have a secretary to keep records of each meeting. c) Another essential member of the committee is the treasurer. He "collects the unds for the operation of the school, issues the teacher’s pay check, and is responsible for the bills. ” (J. A. Hostetler, p. 179) d) The attendance officer is responsible of sending the attendance records of the Amish students to state officials. This job may also be overtaken by the teacher. Usually a board meeting is scheduled every month including the teacher’s presence. The meetings are set to be open which means that they are free for parents and other community members. The board is in charge of the schoolhouse and the playground, the selection of teaching body and of specifying the tuition fees.

Once a year statewide Amish board meetings are held. III A Typical Amish School Day9 On a typical Amish school day the teacher arrives earlier than the students to take care of his jobs. He has to write down the assignments on the board and to prepare the classroom before the scholars arrive. In winter, for example, he has to heat the oven to make it comfortable in the room. School starts at about 8:30. The teacher rings a little bell which he has on his desk. He checks the attendance and needs to record them. After the paper work is done, he welcomes his students and starts with a period of worship.

He reads scriptures of the bible and the children listen quietly. After the prayers all children meet at the front of the classroom to sing songs in German and English. Now the real classes begin. The same sequence as every day starts now: "Grades five to eight exchange their arithmetic papers and check them before handing them in. Grades three and four hand their papers to an older child or teacher for checking. Then grades three to eight start in the next lesson by doing the assignment posted on the chalkboard. Second grade studies their reading lesson while first grade goes to the front for their oral reading. ” (S. E. Fisher and R.

K. Stahl, p. 34) At about 10 o’clock there is a 15-minute-recess for the children. Throughout their break the students are supposed to use their time to go to the restroom or to get a drink. Of course there is also some time to play. At 10. 15 the teacher rings the bell to call the students back into the classroom. Now the schedule changes. The first two grades have to do their arithmetic work now, while the higher grades have to work on their reading assignments. 9 Schedule based on the researches in the books "Amish Society” by J. A. Hostetler and "The Amish School” by S. E. Fisher and R. K. Stahl. Some variances to other

Amish schools may be possible. 5 Lunch break starts at 11. 30. The children have to eat at the beginning of the break. After all students are finished and the tables are wiped, they have time to play on the school’s playground until 12:30. Lunch is followed by a 15-minutes story-time where the teacher reads out to the scholars. In their afternoon lesson the students may have either health, history or geography. At 2 o’clock there is another recess, followed by the last period. In their last period all children concentrate on the improvement of their English. They work on their spelling and their sentence building skills.

The scholars are dismissed at 3:30 pm every day. IV The Struggle for Amish Parochial Schools For a long time the Amish had to fight for the right of having private Amish parochial schools. Public school authorities have always tried to force Amish parents to send their children to public schools after completing eighth grade. In the book "Compulsory Education and the Amish. The right not to be modern” there is a chapter called "Showdown at an Amish Schoolhouse”. This chapter illustrates the actions of public school officials to suppress Amish parents and forcing their children to attend public schools.

It explains how Owen Snively, principal of the Hazleton Elementary School, visits each Amish family to pick up their children. Most children are hidden and the parents refuse to let them go with Snively. Before leaving the town the bus stops at the Amish schoolhouse to check whether the children are hiding there. Most students had already arrived for their studies. Hazleton’s principal enters the school explaining "that it was legally necessary to transport the pupils to the school in town. ” (A. Keim, p. 44) The sheriff asks them to leave the school and enter the bus.

On their way to the bus the children run away, hiding in fields or trying to make it back home. A little bit later the bus returns and takes all the Amish students to Hazleton’s school. The following days the same action is taking place. The whole action is taped and accompanied by the press. The climax of the situation was when the "County Attorney Lemon shouted his disgust at the way the Amish were behaving”. (A. Keim, p. 47) But this is only one side of the harassment of the Amish. Throughout the 20th century numerous court cases have been fought in order to force the Amish to obey state school laws.

A chronology of the most evident Amish court cases regarding education can be found in the appendix. 6 1. The Wisconsin Case10 The most successful court case in Amish history was the case Wisconsin v. Yoder in 1972. The topic again was the violation of state laws regarding school attendance. In 1971 the Wisconsin Supreme Court acknowledged the Amish faith and reversed the conviction. A year later the case was appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court. Throughout the trial the National committee for Amish Religious Freedom became involved.

This group was founded by a lawyer from Pennsylvania, William Ball, and a Lutheran pastor from Michigan, William C. Lindholm. Their purpose was to "preserve the religious liberty of the Old Order Amish and related Anabaptist groups. ” (S. E. Fisher and R. K. Stahl, p. 18) Due to the impulse given by the non-Amish Committee for religious freedom, the U. S. Supreme Court confirmed the decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote about this case: "There is nothing to suggest that the Amish qualities of reliability, self-reliance, and dedication to work would fail to find ready markets in today’s society.

Absent some contrary evidence supporting the state’s position, we are unwilling to assume that persons possessing such valuable vocational skills and habits are doomed to become burdens on society should they determine to leave the Amish faith, nor is there any basis in the record to warrant a finding that an additional one or two years of formal school education beyond the eighth grade would serve to eliminate any such problem that might exist. Amish objection to formal education beyond the eighth grade is firmly grounded in central religious beliefs.

They object to the high school and higher education generally because the values it teaches are in marked variance with Amish values and the Amish way of life. The high school tends to emphasize intellectual and scientific accomplishments, self-distinction, competitiveness, worldly success, and social life with other students. Amish society emphasizes informal learning-through-doing, a life of ‘goodness’, rather than a life of intellect; wisdom, rather than technical knowledge; community welfare, rather than competition; and separation, rather than integration with contemporary worldly society. (Warren Burger quoted in S. E. Fisher and R. K. Stahl, p. 20) This was the first public approval of the Amish society and its faith. The decision helped to ease the problems and brought some peace back. But there are still some states where Amish children are harassed for the refusal to attend public schools. After all the question is: Why have the states prosecuted Amish families for such a long time and even tried to force them to give away their children to the Child Welfare Board?

A possible and simple answer is given in the book "The Amish School”: "Behind their ‘official concern’ for the proper education of Amish children has been the states’ greater concern: their loss of government monies which they receive for each pupil attending high school. ” (S. E. Fisher and R. K. Stahl, p. 20) 10 Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U. S. 205 (1972) 7 V Does It Form the Base for the Survival of the Old Order? Amish education differs from public education in many ways. The values of the Amish system are in great variance to the values of today’s society.

Warren Burger, as quoted before11, has perfectly stated his opinion to the topic of this paper. Reading what he wrote, it is clearly to be seen that Amish education is needed to sustain their way of life. He explains that public schools encourage our youth to be competitive and to focus on intellectual success. Vocational skills and community services are left behind. Amish children on the other hand are encouraged to be kind and friendly, to serve the community and to be faithful in god. Therefore Amish students are kept in the communities by creating another view of today’s society.

But on the other hand Amish education saves the Amish society in a different way. By giving their children only as much education as needed, the scholars are kept in the Amish communities because a living outside the Amish lifestyle would be difficult due to their lack of education. So after all the question whether Amish education forms the base for the survival of the Old Order can definitely be answered with: ‘Yes, it does’. It creates the base for a society apart from today’s capitalism. It encourages its youth to value a lifestyle that is smiled at nowadays.

Whether this lifestyle really needs to be misunderstood and topic to jokes is to be left open since it is not the topic of this paper. 11 Quoted on page 7 in "The Wisconsin Case” 8 VI Appendix 1. Chronology of Amish Court Cases12 This chronology focuses on the most prominent cases. It is taken out of the book: "Compulsory Education and the Amish. The right not to be modern. ” (page 94-98). 1927 – Byler v. State, 26 Ohio App. 329, 157 N. E. 421 (1927). Seth Byler was fined $25 by a justice of the peace for failing to send his daughter to school beyond the eighth grade as required by law.

He appealed to the Common Pleas Court which upheld the decision. The Court of Appeals (Stark County, Ohio) reversed the decision on the basis of a legal error by Common Pleas Court. 1937 – Federal District Court, Philadelphia, 1937. Amish tried to halt construction of a consolidated school. They were upheld. The East Lampeter Township School Board than appealed the decision to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, which held in favour of the school board. 1937 – Chester County District Court, Pennsylvania, 1937 Aaron King was brought to court for keeping his fourteen-year-old daughter Rebecca at home from high school.

He was fined $2 and costs but refused to pay. He was jailed for the night. He than appealed to the Federal District Court in Philadelphia. King was convicted. 1948 – Gingerich v. State, 226 Ind. 678, 83 N. E. 2d 47 (1948) Chester Gingerich refused to send his fourteen-year-old son to high school thus violating the state school statute requiring attendance between the ages of seven and sixteen. The Jay Indiana Circuit Court fined Gingerich $200 and sentenced him to sixty days at the Indiana State Farm, the maximum punishment allowable under the statute.

Gingerich appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court, arguing that the sentence was excessive and violated the state constitution which prohibited excessive fines and cruel and unusual punishments. The supreme court upheld the circuit court decision. 1949 – Commonwealth v. Petersheim, 70 Pa. O. 432 (Somerset County Ct. 1949), appeal dismissed, 166 Pa. Super. 90, 70A. 2d 395 (1950). In this case the parents refused to send the children, over fourteen, but under sixteen, to either public or parochial school. A justice of peace convicted the fathers of violating the 12 Chronology is fully quoted from A.

Keim "Compulsory Education and the Amish. The Right Not to Be Modern” 9 Pennsylvania compulsory attendance law. On appeal the Amish asserted that Pennsylvania law did not apply because the children were fifteen years old, were engaged in farm or domestic work for their parents, and were thus entitled to a permit exempting them from the compulsory attendance law. The court decided in favour of the Amish since to enforce the law would be "… an abridgement and infringement of their constitutional rights of liberty and conscience” as based on the Fourteenth Amendment. 950 – Commonwealth v. Beiler, 168 Pa. Super. 462, 79 A. 2d 134 (1951), affirming 52 Lanc. 167 (1950). In this case the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the conviction of two Amish fathers whose children had not continued school after the eighth grade. The court accepted the genuineness of the Amish religious convictions regarding education but went on to say: "Thus, we are squarely faced with competing demands of the Commonwealth, evidenced by its compulsory school law, and religious liberty, guaranteed by the Constitution.

Or to state the problem in other terms: In the realm of secular education, which is paramount? The State functioning according to democratic processes and depending for its virility upon enlightened citizens; or parents, whose deep and sincere religious convictions reject advanced education as an encroachment upon their way of life? ” The court then decreed that the state’s interest was paramount. The role of the state in enforcing compulsory education must override parental claims based on religion or conscience. 1955 – Commonwealth v. Smoker, 54 Lancaster 188 1954), aff’d 177 Pa. Super. 435, 110 A. 2d 140 (1955). Samuel Smoker was convicted for violating the Pennsylvania school statute by keeping his fourteen-year-old son, who had completed the eighth grade, out of school without a permit. The Court of Quarter Sessions affirmed the lower court decision. 1955 – State v. Hershberger, 103 Ohio App. 188, 191, 144 N. E. 2D 693, 697 (1955). In 1954 John P. Hershberger and others, in Hardin County, Ohio, established a private school in a one-room frame building without light and heated by a coal stove.

The teacher, with no formal teacher training, had completed the eighth grade. Hershberger was found guilty of failing to cause his children to attend school as required by the compulsory education laws of Ohio. The court insisted religious freedom was not at issue. The defendant had a right to establish a private school and send his children there. The issue, said the court, was whether the instruction provided in the private school was equivalent to the 10 instruction given in the public schools. The court felt that the record showed that the instruction did not meet state standards.

Hershberger was convicted, fined $20, and ordered to post a $100 bond with surety to ensure compliance with the law. 1958 – In re Sammy Hershberger, No. 2835, Wayne County, Ohio Juvenile Court, January 29, 1958. State v. Hershberger, 77 Ohio L. Abs. 487, 150 N. E. 2d 671 Wayne County Juvenile Court 1958. Hershberger and other Amishmen were charged with child neglect for failing to send their children to school and were ordered to surrender their children to the custody of the Child Welfare Board. When the parents refused to give up the children, they were cited for contempt and send to jail.

Upon appeal Hershberger argued that his religious convictions did not permit him to give up his child. The court rejected the argument and upheld the contempt order, finding no religious question involved. Later the Wayne County Court of Appeal reversed the contempt citations upon learning that the parents honestly did not know where the children were. 1960 – State v. Glick et al. , Medina County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 1891 (1960). This case took place near Medina, Ohio, in 1960. Local school authorities petitioned the Common Pleas Court for an injunction to close a substandard Amish school n the community. The case against the Amish was dismissed. 1962 – Josgensen v. Borntrager, No. 22904, Buchanan County, Iowa, District Court (November 1962). Local school authorities sought an injunction to close the two local Amish parochial schools. The injunction was denied on the grounds that the state did not have the power to close private schools. 1966 – State v. Garber, 197 Kan. 567, 419 P. 2d 896 (1966). ceritiori denied, 389 U. S. 51 (1967). Amishman LeRoy Garber refused to send his fifteen-year-old daughter to high school.

The Kansas Supreme Court, supporting a lower court decision, held that the state compulsory education law was a valid exercise of the police power, despite its acknowledged interference with the practice of the Amish faith. The court adopted the distinction between the right to believe and the right to act, and concluded that the law was valid because it did not infringe upon the right to worship or believe. 11 1971 – State v. Yoder, 49 Wisconsin 2d 430, 182 N. W. 2d 539 (1971). In 1968 Jonas Yoder and two fellow Amishmen were convicted in Green County court for violating the Wisconsin compulsory school attendance statute.

The circuit court affirmed the lower court decree. The case was the appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court which reversed the conviction, arguing that the compulsory attendance law imposed an excessive restriction on the free exercise of religion of the Amish. 1972 – Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U. S. 205 (1972). The state of Wisconsin appealed the decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court to the U. S. Supreme Court. On May 15, 1972, Chief Justice Warren Burger stated for the Court: "A State’s interest in universal education… s not totally free from a balancing process when it impinges on other fundamental rights and interests, such as those specifically protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the traditional interest of the parents with respect to the religious upbringing of their children. ” The Amish, the Court asserted, had convincingly argued "that enforcement of State’s requirement of compulsory formal education after eighth grade would gravely endanger if not destroy the free exercise of … [Amish] religious beliefs. ” The Amish, the Court declared, could not be forced to send their children to school beyond the eighth grade. 2 VII Bibliography Ediger, Marlow. “Examining the Merits of Old Order Education. ” Education, Spring97, Vol. 117 Issue 3. 08 December 2007 Fisher, Sarah E. , and Stahl, Rachel K. The Amish School. Revised Edition. Good Books: Intercourse, 1997. Hostetler, John A. The Amish Society. 4th Ed. The John Hopkins University Press: Baltimore , 1993. Keim, Albert N. (ed. ). Compulsory Education and the Amish. The Right Not to Be Modern. Beacon Press Boston: Boston, 1976. Sharper, Julie. “Daily routine helps keep mind on school” Baltimore Sun 5 October 2006. 11 March 2008 VIII Directory of Sources of the Images:

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