While learning about the educational journey of Joe Slabaugh, there were many things to be taken away from his experience. It was interesting to hear that he was only able to attend public school as a child for three days, thanks to his sister who had separated from the church.

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And then his uncle, and those over him in the Amish church, took him out to attend one of the Amish schools. Hearing him describe the Amish one-room schoolhouse creates a stark contrast to how public schools functioned during the same time period.

I believe the largest takeaway for me was hearing . . .

. . . how hard Joe had to work to make something of himself outside of this religious culture. He discussed how he worked in factories, on YouTube, and online jobs in order to boost himself in the occupational world. Additionally, he laughed when asked about the Amish not causing harm up to and after 1972, as Wisconsin v. Yoder claims.

The fact that his education was limited and he had to work so hard in so many areas shows how toxic this culture is, specifically in education. They are holding their youth back and not acknowledging how difficult it is for them to make it in the outside world. But that is the whole point: they want to keep the cycle going. 

5 Thought-Provoking Quotes

Here are some quotes that stood out to me while listening to Joe’s story:

  • “My sister tried to get me into public school, that lasted three days until my uncle pulled me out of it and wouldn’t allow me to continue.”
  • “He had me go to a one-room schoolhouse in the middle of a field, literally in the middle of a field, behind his house and I went there for about six weeks or so.”
  • “For several years I worked at a factory, and I worked there for three years and five years at the toy factory, and some of that, but you can’t really make a decent living on that.”
  • “I made YouTube videos and monetized that, I was able to see potential from computers from that.”
  • “To say that they never broke the law (before 1972 and up through that year), that’s like ridiculous.”

My largest takeaway is that even if the Amish were not causing physical harm, which isn’t necessarily accurate, they are still indirectly harming their children through their religious restrictions. 

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