Over the weekend, Lancaster Online published an interesting article on the Amish and Old Order Mennonite schools of Lancaster County.
The situation here is unlike most other Amish communities, in that some schools have both Amish and Mennonite students. Lancaster County has a large Old Order Mennonite presence, centered in the northern half of the county.
So in those areas, you’ll find mixed classrooms of students and may have a Mennonite or an Amish teacher at the head of the class.
In schools operated by Old Order Mennonites you may also find more technology than those run by Amish.
5 Things You May Not Know About Lancaster Amish Schools
Here are 5 interesting facts about Plain parochial schools in the Lancaster County community.
The information comes from teachers, a school board member, and Steven Nolt, Senior Scholar at the Young Center:
- 300+ Little Schools – In the community there are 254 Amish schools and 54 Old Order Mennonite schools. All in a single, albeit large, settlement. This gives you an idea of how decentralized Amish schools are compared to their non-Amish counterparts. These aren’t institutions of hundreds or thousands of students, but each has typically 2-3 dozen scholars total.
- The Teachers – They’re usually young single women (ages 17-20), though sometimes you’ll find male teachers. Pay is low (one example – a local school pays $50-75 per day).
- Subjects – Math goes up to pre-algebra, reading and writing are taught, along with German language, penmanship, and geography. History and science are minimal. In some cases (speaking about Amish schools in general), you may find health class, art, and some social studies (a wall chart listing the US presidents). In plainer schools, curriculum varies (Karen Johnson-Weiner’s Train Up A Child is an excellent look at the differences across communities).
- Group emphasis – Schools emphasize cooperation over getting ahead of your neighbor. From the article, “The curriculum and schools discourage competition and encourage cooperation. It’s typical for teachers to have a bulletin board showing when a group has mastered a lesson instead of tracking individual students.” Scholars have to form new ball teams at recess for similar reasons.
- “3-hour school” – Three-hour school sounds like what every young student dreams about. I know it would have sounded good to me at age 10. But what does it mean in the Amish context? From the article: “If students graduate eighth grade before age 15, they must go to what’s known as a “three-hour school” until that birthday. Students work during the week and keep a journal, then meet one day a week at the home of a teacher to review eighth-grade lessons.”
If you missed it, you might also like this guest post by Rebecca Miller, on 15 differences between Amish and non-Amish schools.