Raising children often includes a formal system of education. As I explore the ways in which parents choose to teach their children, I am realizing that educational systems vary widely from culture to culture. Even in American cultures, there are many variations and alternatives to the traditional public school experience. As my readers know, I received my primary education in a one-room Mennonite school. Other American youth have experienced the unique educational environments of their culture. In the past—and even in the present—there are utopian communities which create schools and curricula to meet the ideals of a specific culture.
The Ephrata Cloister in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, had a school on the property which offered an education so excellent that many prominent Pennsylvanians sent their children there to receive their education. Many other utopian communities stress the importance of protecting their children from the influence of the outside world and inculcating the values of the community.
In the next months, I plan to continue my exploration of educational systems in utopian communities—and other communities which offer an education outside the “typical American” experience. If you have experiences to share with us, we’d love to hear them, along with any comments and questions.