Last Thursday morning my daughter Ashley and I had the opportunity to speak to a group of Amish kids up in Berlin, Ohio. Their dynamic teacher, Amy Stauffer-McNutt, is working with this group of 14-18 yr-olds who are no longer in school but realize they have to prepare for work that may look different from what their parents did.
Traditionally, most Amish youth drop out of school at 16 and join the family farming operation. However, in the last decade, with consolidation of agricultural operations across the country, even those farms have disappeared and now a large percentage are moving into “city” jobs or starting entrepreneurial businesses of their own.
This is more than just a generational redirection – this is a major cultural shift. And as you would expect, it comes with a lot of trepidation on the part of these students and certainly from their parents. These students are learning business, office and computer skills to make themselves more employable – but they are not allowed to access the internet. Yeah, that’s a challenge but they’re still trying to hold on to some boundaries to not blend into the English world.
When their teacher suggested taking a picture with me, she prefaced it with the knowledge that for many Amish families, taking pictures is still very “verbotten.” But as you can see, several jumped at the chance – and I trust I am not putting them in jeopardy by showing it here.
Hey, if you think change is hard – how would you like to go from horse and buggy, no plumbing or electricity – to working in a Macy’s in a big city? Some of you think going from bookkeeping to accounting is a stretch. As I told them, learn from the past, but look to the future. You can read the local paper coverage here – Holmes County Bargain Hunter