Amish Schoolhouse - Credit

Amish Schools in Lancaster County, PA

Nestled within the serene landscapes of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, lies the one room schoolhouses of the Amish. These schoolhouses teach up to 8th grade, all in one room.  

How are Amish schools funded? 

Amish schools operate independently without state funding. Families in the area come together to fund the schoolhouse building and the teacher’s salary. Depending on the areas and how many families and students are within walking distance will determine the number of families at one schoolhouse. Schoolhouses often educate up to 30 students at a time. As the Amish tend to have large families, it isn’t uncommon to see 4-6 siblings in school at one time. So, it doesn’t take many families to fill a schoolhouse. 

How are Amish schools constructed? 

The Amish community will build and maintain their own schools. Schools are constructed primarily from locally sourced materials, such as timber and stone. Architectural features such as broad gabled roofs, unadorned facades, and ample windows embody the Amish principle of modesty and humility. It is usually one room with small desks in front for the smaller students and larger desks in back for the older students. The schoolyard often has a small swing set and space for playing games. 

What classes are taught? 

Amish focus on the core subjects of reading, writing, spelling, geography, and practical math, plus both English and German, in their schools. Science is not a subject in an Amish school as that is seen as too worldly. Also, schools may teach Amish history and Amish values.  Commonly the school day will start with a prayer, and perhaps a Bible reading. After formal schooling is completed, Amish youth will get vocational training from operating the farm to homemaking. Amish kids start helping at home and with their family businesses at a very young age. 

Why only 8th Grade? 

In 1972, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Wisconsin v. Yoder that Amish children do not need to attend school beyond the eighth grade, and this ruling still stands. The Lancaster County Amish believe that public school or high education would pull children away from their community’s families and church traditions. Thus, this would threaten Amish values with individualism, competition, rational thinking, and secularism. There is no option to attend modern public school, nor a higher education institution for Amish in Lancaster.                  

Who teaches at the Amish school house? 

Unlike conventional educational systems, where teachers undergo formal training, Amish educators, affectionately known as “schoolmarms” or “schoolmasters,” are nurtured within the folds of their community. Aspiring teachers apprentice under a seasoned educator to acquire practical skills and imbibe core Amish values. While formal qualifications are not prerequisites, proficiency in the Amish dialect, Pennsylvania Dutch, and a deep understanding of Amish culture are deemed essential. Like their students, they will not have a formal education after 8th grade. 

Visit a One-Room Schoolhouse

Consider checking out an Amish schoolhouse at the Amish Experience on Plain & Fancy Farm on your next visit to Lancaster County. If you stay in a Grand King room at AmishView Inn & Suites, you can often catch a glimpse of the students walking to school. Book your stay in a Grand King room today!