Things Amish children learn in school (not in a textbook).
The Golden Rule- Matt. 7:12
Students are taught , “If you all used the Golden Rule at all times, you wouldn’t need any other rules,” but since children are children they also need a few more specific guidelines.
Though children memorize it in German and English, the most important part is learning to practice it in their everyday lives. So often even adults forget to apply it in everyday situations.
Amish teachers stress using the Golden Rule in play and any other situations. It wouldn’t be unusual to hear a teacher ask an offender,”was that the Golden Rule?” And then follow up with “please apologize.” Or a punishment if it merits one.
This is a vital ingredient for any successful school. And it also applies to the teacher and the parents. Children need to learn to cooperate with the teacher and each other.
There are several instances where it’s very essential. For one, planning and bringing together the annual Christmas program. The teacher puts in much effort to pick out parts for each student, then setting up the poems, plays, and songs, but if not for the students’ cooperation in studying and practicing our hard work would be for naught. Then there’s also a lot of work in cleaning, decorating, and getting the schoolhouse ready.
A few other times would be special art/craft projects where the whole class or sometimes even the whole school work together.
Not only do children need to learn to respect their teachers, but also each other, and themselves. There is also a great need to learn to respect school property, the neighbors’ property, and each others’ space and privacy.
All of these are much easier for the teacher and child if good ground work has been laid at home before they start school. But even the most respectful children can lose that respect if the teacher doesn’t maintain and teach it also.
All children, even the ones with the best behavior need reminders. They also need praise for doing the right thing and showing respect.
Since there is no janitor, students learn at a young age to help with cleaning and upkeep of the classroom and school house. Each child is given a daily chore schedule, which also allows them one free day. For example on Monday Alma might sweep classroom, Tuesday help check workbooks, Wednesday clean the blackboard, and Thursday, free :).
Younger ones might pass the trash can, wipe desks after lunch, clap erasers, sweep the basement. The older ones also take turns by weeks to put our hot lunch foods in the oven at 11 o’clock so they’re warm by 11:30, and guess what, if Johnny forgets one day - he probably won’t the next. He’ll get plenty reminders from his peers. No one likes a late lunch
On Friday afternoon the teacher and all the students help each other give the school house a good scrubbing and clean up the grounds. Older students will also have the opportunity to help younger ones with questions or studying spelling words, reading stories, or times tables to name a few. They can also help their teacher by taking classes or giving flashcards.
They also need to be responsible for their desk and space. The teacher might also send a few of the older ones out to pick up trash along the ditches. If you’re in a high-traffic area, you wouldn’t want to do that. They also learn at a young age to work independently and be responsible for their lessons and studying for tests.
Last but not least, obedience is the most important of all. Again, as mentioned before, if children are taught these values from home, it is much easier for the teacher.
It is great to can get them to obey out of love, and not only because they have to. If children only obey out of fear, sooner or later they will rebel and act out.
Parental support makes a huge difference in this, but a lot lies on the teacher, too. Children soon learn if a teacher means what he/she says or if they can push things a little further each time and soon be doing exactly what they want to. Children need the security of knowing that obedience is expected.
If they can learn these values at a young age it will help them all through life: as a church member, an employee or employer, a teacher, a parent or perhaps in the ministry. Like anything, the younger we learn something, the better it will stick.