Meet the Hutterites: Tammy's mom 'proud' that her daughter quit high school

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

King Ranch Colony continues to stress its disdain for education.

The King Ranch Colony, featured in National Geographic’s reality television show, Meet the Hutterites, continues to depict education as something to be thrown away and feared, viewed by many colony members as a threat to the Hutterite way of life.

On the latest episode, Tammy, a 17-year-old Hutterite girl, was forced by her family to choose between living in the Hutterite colony and finishing her high school education. Pressured by her family, she chose to drop out of school. Her mother, Marie, was elated.

“That is just awesome to hear, Tammy. You actually made Mom’s day,” Marie told her daughter excitedly. In a camera cameo, she continued expressing her joy at her daughter’s decision to drop out of school. “I am really proud of my daughter Tammy, making the choice that she’s made. I just almost cried with happiness that she’d choose that route. It’s just great to see as a parent.”

Great to see as a parent? Made Mom’s day? Seriously?

Apparently so.

“I hope it works out for me, because I’m sacrificing a lot,” Tammy said to her mom, “because I’m giving up my education for this.”

“It will,” Marie said to her daughter. “Trust me, it will, Sweetheart.”

Many people have commented on Huliq that the Hutterites do not try to limit their children’s education, and perhaps that is true of a lot of Hutterite colonies. But, the King Ranch Colony, as depicted in Meet the Hutterites, not only does not encourage their children to get their educations, many members actively discourage it. How a mother can be “proud” of her daughter for quitting high school is simply incredible.

Designated colony rebel Claudia had a much different view on Tammy quitting school:

“Tammy, you can honestly see the difference between people that have gone to high school around here and those that haven’t. You can see the difference. They kinda look stupid, for the ones that haven’t.”

“Having school and cooking and baking at the same time was a lot of responsibility, but I dealt with it,” Claudia said in a camera cameo. “I think that she just doesn’t have the support that I had.”

That was an understatement.

The interesting thing is, Tammy has been very clear that she wants to stay on the colony. She wants to be a Hutterite woman and, someday, a Hutterite wife and mom. She has no desire to leave the colony. But, still, Tammy’s parents have not encouraged her at all to attend school, and have been actively encouraging her to quit. “I love school, Dad,” Tammy said, in tears, as her father rolled his eyes. “I want an education. I want to go to school, and I want to graduate.” Her father, unsympathetic, continued his Hutterite-life-or-school tirade. “Like I said, one of the two’s gotta go,” he demanded to her. Under that pressure, it is no wonder that the 17-year-old decided that her education was as worthless as her parents viewed it to be.

In Mary-Ann Kirkby’s book, I Am Hutterite, she indicates that kids are able to finish school via correspondence. Today, there are on-line homeschooling programs available. Why quitting school is the only option available in this Hutterite colony is simply unfathomable, except for the view that has been expressed time and time again since this program began to air: Gaining an education may give young adults the tools to leave the colony. And, this type of portrayal on Meet the Hutterites may be why the Hutterite Bishops felt moved to release a statement saying that they felt betrayed by National Geographic. But, if members of this colony honestly believe that this is true—that young people will leave in droves if they have the skills and knowledge necessary to function in the “English” world—then maybe the Hutterite way of life on King Ranch Colony is not as perfect as they want to believe it to be.

Stay tuned.

Meet the Hutterites airs on the National Geographic Channel on Tuesdays at 10 p.m E/P.

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
This show, whether the scenes are staged or not, reinforces what we already know but need to see: people are people, wherever you go. The teenagers curse, brag, and belittle each other; they want things they cannot have. The adults get angry and sometimes resentful, just like the rest of us. I like Bertha the best - she is a fine mother, a good friend and has her fair share of flaws that we women can all relate to. What sets her apart, not because she is Hutterite, is that she is completely at peace with herself and brutally honest about her feelings. This is refreshing and fun to watch. I am a little jealous about the community aspect of their lives. Despite all the sacrifices to their individuality, it must be nice -- at the end of the day -- to be surrounded by hoards of friends and family, who care for each other despite their flaws. Their dedication and hard work for the greater good is not really anti-intellectual at all, but a tribute to the safety and security of colony life. What manages to come through in this series is that our "modern" education ethic is quite useful in our society, but wouldn't mean much on a Hutterite colony. For this reason, we shouldn't be too judgmental about Tammy's decision to quit school. After all, we all want the same things: a secure future and good family and friends. Tammy's future has all of these things!

Submitted by Heather (not verified) on
This sentence you wrote speaks a lot "What manages to come through in this series is that our "modern" education ethic is quite useful in our society, but wouldn't mean much on a Hutterite colony." I cannot disagree with this more. I have friends from different colonies. The colonies that are successful, progressive, happiest, and most fruitful are those that do value a high school education and sometimes the extension type tech classes. Isn't one of the pivotal values of a Hutterite is to be "self sustaining" To be that, and make a living, to support the colony, a person must have skills to be efficient and smart in the ways they work. For example. A manufacturing plant needs engineering capabilities to fabricate products. Germans are world renowned for engineering....why pay someone else from the local town, when you can educate one of the baptised males. A colony wants a website...simple to do at home on a computer...why not educate a young lady from the colony to create a website..teach her photography skills...loosen the reins a little. Give the younger generation a chance to make a difference. To have pride in their work. To know that they did make a difference and were able to contribute to the hive...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I watch this show since it started, I do enjoy seeing how they all work together, cook, clean, and enjoy activities within the colony. It does puzzle me though, when they say religious sec and how they have church; I hear alot of prophanity coming out their mouths, they are suppose to show us how they live, but at the same time being rebellious. Also, I watched the episode where they were in the wood shop and nobody could give an accurate measurement on the picture frame he needed to cut. That goes to show you need more than an 8 grade education they provide to the children in the colony. I promote education!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
This show, whether the scenes are staged or not, reinforces what we already know but need to see: people are people, wherever you go. The teenagers curse, brag, and belittle each other; they want things they cannot have. The adults get angry and sometimes resentful, just like the rest of us. I like Bertha the best - she is a fine mother, a good friend and has her fair share of flaws that we women can all relate to. What sets her apart, not because she is Hutterite, is that she is completely at peace with herself and brutally honest about her feelings. This is refreshing and fun to watch. I am a little jealous about the community aspect of their lives. Despite all the sacrifices to their individuality, it must be nice -- at the end of the day -- to be surrounded by hoards of friends and family, who care for each other despite their flaws. Their dedication and hard work for the greater good is not really anti-intellectual at all, but a tribute to the safety and security of colony life. Colony life does require hard work and every member must pull his weight. What manages to come through in this series is that our "modern" education ethic is arguably useful in our society, but wouldn't mean much on a Hutterite colony. For this reason, we shouldn't be too judgmental about Tammy's decision to quit school. After all, we "English" and Hutterites alike basically want the same things: a secure future with good family and friends to share it with. Tammy's future has all of these things; no college degree can possibly guarantee that!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Find it sad that Tammy's parents gave her no support at all and find her mothers comments wrong - her father (like most of the men I see portrayed) would not listen to much she had to say. Believe Mary-Ann's comment is probably close to the truth that they are afraid if the children are educated it might lead them to seek life outside the colony. The colony manages to run a large business and support the 59 living there so would think that in this modern age education might be a help to them. Do see a couple of the men using computers - one being Wesley - but not others.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
much of this series is not true its true the girls when they have reached the age of 15 they get a bigger responsibiltys the colony feels that the kids should have enough teaching till they r past there grade 9

Submitted by Cajun (not verified) on
Both My Girlfriend and I were quite shocked at the utter disdain that these Adults have for High School and Education in General. We could understand that a certain amount of the fear (for lack of a better word) that is expressed over attending High School comes mainly from the fact that there will be other kids there that will become friends with their Children and perhaps influence them in ways other than Hutterite tradition..as well as the dress code when it comes to sports activities... But...To shun Education itself is just unbelievable..unfathomable..leaving the burning question--WHY? Wesley is the only one there with a college education as I understand it, and yet He is excluded from all decision making within the Colony...not even being allowed to attend the meetings... We were absolutely horrified to hear a Mother telling everyone how proud She was that Her Daughter decided to drop out of School..Makes Me wonder if they would even allow them to complete their education online, since they obviously have no problem with modern electronics.. The complete education of their Children would do wonders for their Colony...The kids would be happier, their business aspect of their Colony would profit as well... One day these kids are going to be in charge, then There will be some changes made I'm sure..

I could not agree with you more, Cajun, on every point you made. I believe the reason Wesley is not allowed to participate in decision making is because he has not yet been baptized, and that, I suppose, is their way, but it still seems that they would be inclined to utilize his skills and knowledge more than they do; often they seem to actually resent what he could bring to the table more than anything.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
most manitoba hutterites do have grade 12 it is encouraged to go to school and some have even gone to university and gotten thier teachers degree

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