Groffdale Mennonite Conference; Schmiedeleut Hutterite; Education; Socialization; One-room schools


This study is an exploration of common structures, theories, and practices among the educational systems of selected Anabaptist communities, focusing on a Midwestern Schmeideleut Hutterite community and the Groffdale Conference (Old Order) Mennonites in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Building on ideas of utopian communities, this research suggests two key foci of education as practiced in Hutterite and Old Order Mennonite communities. The first is identity, both of the community—as manifested by a common purpose and identity—and of the individual—as manifested by a belief in free will. The second is practicality, both in the physical (pragmatic) and metaphysical (idealistic) realm. Anabaptist communities tend to perceive education as highly important to the continued meaningful existence of the community because education serves as a means of socializing children and youth into community norms, standards, and beliefs.


Special thanks to fellow student Rachel Lee, Dr. Christopher Costello, and Professor John Lawlor for inspiration, encouragement, and critique; to faculty mentor Dr. Lucia Torchia-Thompson for believing that the ambitious is not impossible; and to all the anonymous participants who generously gave of their time and wisdom to make this research possible.


The author approaches this study from the unique perspective of a former student in a one-room Mennonite school, and a current member of an Old Order Mennonite community. This research study is an extension of a project about Amish and Mennonite schools completed in a sociology honors contract under Professor Nancy Lambert.



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