Most of us who read Amish fiction know that Amish children attend school only until the 8th grade in schools supported by the Amish and with Amish teachers who themselves only have an 8th grade education. That may be true for the vast majority of Amish children, but if there is one thing I have learned in my years of researching the Amish culture—it is that there is no one-size-fits-all rule even in education.
All Amish teachers are young unmarried Amish women. Right? Nope. There is a small but growing number of Amish men who are taking on the role. What is the reason for the change? Young unmarried women often get married and leave thus making it difficult to maintain a consistent quality of education for the children. Married men who agree to take on the task can remain educators for many years. So can the women who don’t marry, of course, but I have yet to hear of a school that allows a married Amish woman to teach. I was surprised to learn some church districts even hire non-Amish teachers. Are you aware there are Special Ed schools for Amish children with disabilities? Who says the Amish don’t value education.
A few Amish settlements that are too small to support their own schools send their children to public schools. Respect for the Amish culture and their values is the key to the success of this arrangement, not only with the teaching staff but with the entire community. In Mount Ida, Kansas, the small country school is a public school but with mostly Amish students. The Amish in this settlement have a unique addition to their children’s education. They hold Sunday School. Because the bible they use is in German, a language that is taught in Amish schools but not in Kansas public schools, the kids learn to read and write German and study religion in a meeting house. I understand baptismal classes are also held there.
While the word “Amish” may conjure up a picture of a pretty woman in a white bonnet and men with straw hats and suspenders living a simple life, the real Amish world is much more varied and complex than most of us imagine. And that’s why I love to write about them.
USA Today Bestselling author Patricia Davids grew up on a Kansas farm with four brothers. After college she began a wonderful career as a nurse. In 1973 Pat wrote a letter to a lonely sailor. Little did she know her talent with words would bring her love, marriage and motherhood.
An avid reader, Pat longed to write a book, but put her dream on hold as she raised a family and worked in an NICU. It wasn’t until 1996 that she began writing seriously. Today, Pat enjoys crafting emotionally satisfying romances where love and faith bring two people together forever.