The Socialization of Scale: Geographic Education and Spatial Cognition in the Old Order Amish classroom




Gillespie, Carol Ann

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This dissertation presents a study of the manner in which early and comprehensive socialization is reflected in the education and cognitive mapping product of Old Order Amish children. This study examines the role of education in the Old Order Amish community with particular focus on how geography is taught and learned in the classroom. In addition, the cognitive maps drawn by Amish children are compared with those drawn by non-Amish children in the same neighborhood to discern the impact of scale and differing socialization processes effect the children's mental maps of their neighborhood. The conceptual framework of this study is based on cognitive mapping theories as well as theories of boundary maintenance and socialization processes. The methodology uses ethnographic research methods to observe Old Amish children in their homes and school. In addition, an analysis of both Amish and non-Amish children's neighborhood mental maps provided insight into the socialization processes of the Amish children in the rural neighborhood under study. Results indicate that formal education is not a high priority in the Amish community and that the teaching and learning of "geography" is a low priority in the Amish classroom. In addition, the same small scale observed in the Amish community is also reflected in the Amish classroom and in the neighborhood maps produced by the Amish children. Psycho-social boundaries imposed early in an Amish child's life were reflected in the neighborhood maps they drew. This study suggests a marked difference in the meaning of "neighborhood" in the minds of the Amish child and the non-Amish child. Future research among other "closed" subcultures within dominant American society will inform the broader sphere of multicultural education in that the information gleaned from children's neighborhood mental maps can be used to craft a more meaningful learning experience in the multicultural classroom.



Amish, cognitive maps, education


Gillespie, C.A. (2005). The socialization of scale: Geographic education and spatial cognition in the Old Order Amish classroom (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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