The Amish maintain strict traditions. Part of the Amish culture is not changing to meet the standards of the outside world. Listed below are some of the traditions that have been passed down through generations of Amish Families
The Amish educational experience is complete after 8th grade. Their ultimate goal is to educate their children in the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic with emphasis on minimizing outward influences.
The Amish believe that life experience is more valuable than investing time in higher education. This does not mean however, that the Amish do not attain higher education. They believe higher education to be important at the right time in the child's religious development. The Amish do pay public school taxes as well as fund their own private schools.
The traditional outlook of the Amish education is directed inwards, towards the Amish beliefs, and community. A limited knowledge of the rest of the world is not looked down upon, as it is most important to protect and uphold the values and traditions of the community.
Amish marry Amish. No intermarriage is allowed. Divorce is not permitted and separation is very rare. They are strictly monogamous and generally patriarchal. Sex roles are clearly defined. The average family size is 7-8 children. Homosexuality is not recognized as an acceptable lifestyle.
The entire Amish lifestyle is centered around community building. Barn raising is a tradition that has been upheld for generations. A barn raising is simply a community even directed towards constructing a barn. Usually barn raisings are organized to build a barn for a newlywed couple or to replace a barn destroyed by wind or fire. The barn raising is a unifying community event, in which whoever is able participates. Each barn that is constructed consists of the individual handiwork of many members in the community.
Although the barns are built in the traditional manner, materials can be ordered from a lumber yard. Many components of the barn, are prepared in advance so that all of the heavy lifting can be done with the full crew present. The older, experienced men direct the activities, and the boys act as "gofers." The women and girls prepare and serve food and drink, prodigious quantities of which will be consumed. They are also available for first aid. These barns can be constructed in a matter of days, and serve a vital role in the Amish culture and community.
Shortly after the age of 16, the teenager is allowed to leave the community, and experience a life of technology. This gives the individual the chance to experience the world, and attempt the things that are forbidden within the community. Any member who leaves permanently will be shunned. If the individual chooses to leave they will forever be considered an outsider, and will not be allowed to participate in any aspect of the community. All relationships with family and friends cease to exist.
It is actually rare that a person will decide to leave the Amish community for a contemporary lifestyle. Allowing the teenagers to try urban life is a tradition filled with wisdom, and insight. Without this tradition old and young alike would be constantly questioning their dedication to the Amish community and the traditions of a simple life.