Deprived Amish Children

A visitor recently expressed concern that Amish children are deprived of many things, including an education after the eighth grade. Indeed, some Amish young people decide not to join the church, and go off in these pursuits. For example, a local Amish boy, whose mother used to stop at the airport when planes were taking off, grew up to become a commercial airline pilot. There are many people with Amish backgrounds in various professions.

Of course, the Amish view of education is different from ours. It focuses on the basics. For those going into farming, carpentry, construction, or whatever, the learning does not happen sitting behind a desk, but by "doing." A visitor from abroad once asked an Amishman where he could find a book on the Amish farming method. The Amishman was baffled. He found it odd to think that you could learn to be a farmer by reading a book.

Interestingly enough, Amish children learn English in school, having grown up speaking the Pennsylvania German dialect. We might ask how many students in the public school system are bilingual, even after 12 years of education.

If they wanted to, the Amish could certainly make a list of some of the things their children are deprived of enjoying. Just to name a few…

1. Going to school on a bus every day or getting dropped off at daycare

2. Having to pass through a metal detector when they arrive in the morning

3. Being trained to beware of strangers

4. Getting to wear the latest trendy fashions and sports shoes

5. Watching TV, going to movies, and surfing the Internet

An Amishman wrote several years ago that Amish children, in addition to being "deprived," are actually "forced" to do many things. Those on the farm "are expected to feed the chickens, sweep the floor, and fill the wood box after walking home from school. On Saturdays and holidays, they have to help with planting the garden, and later with picking berries and cherries, peas and beans, corn and potatoes. They drive a team of horses for loading hay and grain. Truly, they have little leisure time."

The Amishman compares his children to some he sees in the world around him, who seem to get whatever they want. He believes that "being deprived of many of the pleasures of this world is a spiritual blessing. Our children seem to be just as happy as those who are deprived of nothing."

Children are frequently the topic of Sunday church sermons. The preacher stresses the great responsibility that parents have in raising their children, and reminds the congregation that "Children are the only treasures on earth we can take with us to heaven."

Amish Country News Publisher's Message by Brad Igou (2000)


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