A Dartmouth University professor has written a fascinating paper about the functionality of Amish one-room schools. His paper is entitled “Do Amish One-Room Schools Make the Grade?" (Amish schools, truly, are rarely one-room...they usually are several, but I won't quibble with this)
His premise is a very interesting one: that the Amish are essentially "locked in" to an educational system that no longer works. Ever since the landmark Supreme Court case, Yoder vs. Wisconsin codified into law the Amish wishes to educate their children just to the eighth grade, the Amish have generally run their own schools in their own way. That was back in 1972 and Dartmouth professor William Fischel persuasively argues that society has changed a lot since then. The Amish themselves have changed, back in 1972 they were in the waning days of being an almost exclusively agrarian culture. That is no longer the case. Some Amish do still attend public schools but even they stop at the eighth grade. The professor makes some credible points and valid premises but here's the problem I have with his ultimate conclusions: they are HIS conclusions. I think the Amish should solve their educational issues in their own way and not be foisted on them by outsiders. The Amish - despite their eighth-grade education - are not stupid. If and when Yoder vs. Wisconsin becomes outdated they will, in their own way, evolve to fit the times. They always do. What do you think? Click here to read more about William Fischel's paper.