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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

An Amish Schoolhouse

On September 26, Doug and I joined other senior adults from our church for a Back Roads Amish Tour in Shipshewana, Indiana. The area in and around Shipshewana is home to the largest Amish settlement in the state, and the third-largest nationwide. 

The tour was arranged through Blue Gate, a major tourist attraction in Shipshewana, which includes motel, theater, and restaurant. Blue Gate provided a knowledgeable guide who made advance arrangements for our group to visit an Amish school, an Amish housewife, and an Amish bishop.

Today's post will focus on the Amish school.

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Amish Schoolhouse
The large classroom accommodates grades 1 through 8. The grades are divided between the father and daughter who serve as teachers, with the intent of giving each teacher approximately the same number of students. Since some grades have more students than others, the division isn't quite perfect. I believe the daughter had 15 on her side of the classroom, while the father had 17 on his side. A curtain can be drawn between the two sides to help reduce distractions between the groups, but it can also be pulled back to allow the groups to participate together in common activities such as singing.

There is an apartment on the second floor, to accommodate a teacher that might need it; but it isn't currently in use. 


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I'm not sure what the Amish would call this; but, when I was in school, we would have called it a "cloakroom." This side appeared to be for the girls' wraps and lunch containers. There was another room on the other side of the entrance for the boys' things.

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Each of these plastic cups had the name of one of the students written on it in permanent marker. This was on the side of the girls' cloakroom. I imagine there was another just like it in the boys' cloakroom. I was trying to be inconspicuous about my picture taking and didn't make it over to the boys' side.

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This is a little better picture of the front of the schoolhouse, taken as our group was leaving.

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And this last photo is a shot of the playground, with a slide, swings, and teeter-totters, as well as the bicycles which the students had ridden to school.

Amish, including the teachers, don't attend school beyond the 8th grade. Our guide told us later that the male teacher at this school had written the story problems for all the math books for all the grades, with each story problem dealing with things found in Amish culture.

Our group sat on benches at the back of the classroom, while the teacher provided information about the school and answered our questions. Then he led the students in a song for us before we left.

This has already become a long post, so I'll save the next two stops for the next post.


12 comments:

  1. I enjoyed your photos and info on this tour. I know the Amish are a religious sect, but I can't help but think how their children rarely get into drugs and other vices while regular families battle those problems so often. Thank you for sharing, I've never been on a group tour trip, but I hope to do that sometime.

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    1. The Amish do have their problems, but they're very family oriented and very supportive of each other. That tight-knit community relationship, I think, is what binds them together so tightly. This was just a day trip, sponsored by the senior adult ministry at our church. They generally take a day trip each month. Doug and I have never gone on a longer bus trip, but it's beginning to have an appeal. :)

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  2. Very interesting. I visited Shipshewana many, many years ago, but did not see the school. (It may not even have been there at the time!)

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    1. George, I believe there are approximately 140 Amish church districts in the Shipshewana area, with each of those districts having its own school. The districts are generally limited to something like 25 family groups, which is necessary in order to keep them small enough that everyone can meet in individual homes. I can't remember how old they said this particular school was, but I'm sure there were at least some schools there when you visited.

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  3. How interesting... I would have loved to take a tour like that... I've always been interested in the Amish and know so little about them. I think their faith, their lifestyles and their love of family has so much to teach US.....

    Thanks for the tour. I'm looking forward to MORE.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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    1. We've lived among Amish for nearly 30 years, and we really don't know much about them either, other than what we can observe. We don't have any close relationships with them. But then we don't really have any close relationships with our English neighbors, either. I guess that's our fault.

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  4. Wonderful and beautiful photos, Linda! Thank you so much for sharing.

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  5. Very interesting. I grew up in a Mennonite community and some of the things you mention were similar to our school. Let me just add that things have changed by now. We had a boys hall and a girls hall.Very eager accommodations and looking back not all that sanitary.But we all grew up into healthy adults.

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    1. It would be interesting to hear about your school days, Ruth. I think my school experience was quite different than the experiences in present-day schools. I'm glad I'm where I am in life. :)

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  6. I find the Amish community attractive in many ways so reading your post was very interesting, Linda, I am looking forward to the next part. I had to think about the limited education they get and provide, especially nowadays when higher education is requested in so many regards...

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    1. Hi, Petra. Generally speaking, the Amish get an excellent education in the eight years that they attend school. When they leave school, they are equipped to live the Amish life, including employment in the Amish community. Many are farmers or carpenters. Some become business owners, employing both English and Amish.

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