The Amish people follow a list of rules called the Ordnung. Although this list varies from one Amish order to another and even between communities from the same order, all of the rules are created to hold families and the community together while promoting the values of humility and separation. Specific rules apply to dress, technology, education and family life.
The Ordnung requires modest dress that does not draw attention to individuals. The Amish wear simple styles that are sewn at home from dark, plain fabrics. Pockets, lapels, collars, creased pants, belts and ornamentation of any kind are not allowed by most communities. Women wear capes or aprons over their dresses for modesty, and keep their heads covered.
The Amish limit technology to minimize inequalities in the community and reduce temptation. In old order Amish communities, rules do not allow electricity in individual homes and forbid the private ownership of automobiles. Most communities also forbid tractor use. Although the Amish may use telephones in emergency situations, the community locates phones for common use in barns, sheds or phone booths away from homes.
The Ordnung states the manner in which children in the community are educated. Amish schools typically stop at the end of eighth grade and teach reading, writing, math, geography and vocational skills. Children speak German at home and learn English in schools.
Amish rules also dictate how roles in the family operate. Men and boys work the farm, while women and girls do the household chores. The father is the head of the family. Marriage is limited to other Amish, and divorce is forbidden.