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Train Up a Child

Old Order Amish and Mennonite Schools

Karen M. Johnson-Weiner

Publication Year: 2007

Train Up a Child explores how private schools in Old Order Amish communities reflect and perpetuate church-community values and identity. Here, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner asserts that the reinforcement of those values among children is imperative to the survival of these communities in the modern world. Surveying settlements in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, Johnson-Weiner finds that, although Old Order communities have certain similarities in their codes of conduct, there is no standard Old Order school. She examines the choices each community makes—about pedagogy, curriculum, textbooks, even school design—to strengthen religious ideology, preserve the social and linguistic markers of Old Order identity, and protect their own community's beliefs and values from the influence of the dominant society. In the most comprehensive study of Old Order schools to date, Johnson-Weiner provides valuable insight into how variables such as community size and relationship with other Old Order groups affect the role of these schools in maintaining behavioral norms and in shaping the Old Order's response to modernity.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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p. v

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pp. vii-xii

The average North American sees little difference between one Old Order Amish person and another, or between an Old Order Amish person and an Old Order Mennonite. In their plain, archaic-looking clothes and horse-drawn buggies, they all seem firmly anchored in the nineteenth century, as ignorant of mainstream culture as any pioneer from a forgotten...

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CHAPTER 1. Private Schools and Old Order Life

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pp. 1-20

In 1937, writing to “our Men of Authority” in the Pennsylvania state government, a group of Old Order church members from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, argued against a new law that would extend the school year from eight months to nine and raise the age at which children could leave school from 14 to 15 years old. “We do not wish to...

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CHAPTER 2. Old Order Schools and Old Order Identities

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pp. 21-39

A postcard published by American Souvenirs and Gifts shows two schoolhouses and a classroom scene of children lined up by the board for a reading lesson. The caption reads, “As in almost all else, the schools of the Amish are of another century. The one room little red school house with its pot bellied stove and its eight grades...

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CHAPTER 3. The Swartzentruber Schools

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pp. 40-71

On cold winter mornings, the teacher must be the first to school so that she can light the fire in the woodstove. When her pupils arrive, she will have some of them fill the wood box and others fetch water. If the pupils are lucky, the pump will not be frozen. Otherwise, they might have to take the bucket to the nearest Amish farmhouse to fill it so that there will be water...

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CHAPTER 4. Small Schools in Small Settlements

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pp. 72-102

People used to seeing pictures of the Amish in tourist centers such as Intercourse, Pennsylvania, or Berlin, Ohio, tend to think of the Old Orders as living in crowded semi-rural settings, their buggies choking traffic as they wait to make left turns onto busy highways. Yet there are many smaller, more isolated and rural...

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CHAPTER 5. Mainstream Amish Schools

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pp. 103-129

Talking about the Amish in the Holmes County settlement an hour away from her own, an Ashland Amish woman commented, “We always thought, ‘They’re Holmes County people, they’re higher than us,’ but they’re common [not so different].” The earliest settlers in the Ashland community moved west out of the Holmes County area...

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CHAPTER 6. Progressive Amish Schools

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pp. 130-166

Like many of their Old Order counterparts in Holmes County, the Old Order Amish in Centreville, Michigan, and Elkhart and LaGrange Counties in Indiana face a world in which their children are as likely to work as wage laborers as farmers. This is an affluent region. As in Holmes County, many in the Centreville and Elkhart-LaGrange settlements operate businesses that provide...

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CHAPTER 7. Old Order Mennonite Schools in Lancaster County

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pp. 167-205

The Holmes County area boasts the largest Old Order Amish settlement in the world, yet when people think of the Old Order Amish, they most often think of Lancaster County, which Klimuska (1998, 42) has called “the homeland of the Amish church.” Since the first Mennonite settlers began to arrive in Pennsylvania in 1710,...

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CHAPTER 8. Publish or Perish

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pp. 206-228

Key in protecting children in private schools from the influence of the non–Old Order world is controlling the information they receive. Despite variations from church-community to church-community, children in Old Order schools generally acquire many of the same skills as their public school peers, and many acquire similar...

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CHAPTER 9. What’s Education For?

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pp. 229-245

The 1939 Report of Committee of Plain People included a letter from a father in New York State who wrote, “The apostle Paul admonishes us to bring up our children ‘in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’ (Eph. 6:4). Therefore it is certainly our duty to guard them as much as possible against the corrupting and blighting influences of the world,...


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pp. 247-254


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pp. 255-272


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pp. 273-282


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pp. 283-289

E-ISBN-13: 9780801892400
E-ISBN-10: 0801892406
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801884955
Print-ISBN-10: 0801884950

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 28 halftones, 3 line drawings
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 310123226
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Train Up a Child

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Subject Headings

  • Amish children -- Education.
  • Mennonite children -- Education.
  • Old Order Mennonites -- Social life and customs.
  • Amish -- Social life and customs.
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