The Hutterite community seeks to maintain a society within its geographical territory that provides the best possible conditions for the social and religious development of its members. The important forces directing life are not individual success, high standards of living, or popular fashions, but a firm quest for maintaining a simple lifestyle that its members believe reflects God's will for them. The values and attitudes adopted by the Hutterite communities are deeply rooted in their historical experience and interpretations of the Bible, and consciously in their cultural heritage which is also pervasively religious.
The Hutterites originated in 1528 in Moravia as a branch of the Anabaptists. They were named for Jacob Hutter, who was their leader from 1533 until 1536 when he was burned at the stake. Since coming to North America from Eastern Europe in the late 1800's, the Hutterites have established more than 300 colonies in the United States and Canada. More than 80 are located in Manitoba.
Hutterites believe in the common ownership of goods (Acts 2:44-47). They do not believe in war or violence. They are farmers who live in Bruderhofs (colonies) of about 100 people. The colony members lead simple lives. They meet daily for worship. A preacher and a Wirt (boss) head each colony.
Hutterite children are confronted with learning three languages. A Tyrolean dialect is learned in the home and is used mainly in oral communications. German is learned before and after a regular school day and it is used mainly in the church and in written communication. English is learned in school and used in communication with people outside the community such as teachers, shopkeepers, and neighbouring farmers.
English is a second language for many students since most of them have had little exposure to English before entering school. The teacher is faced with the task of teaching the language in addition to the regular school curriculum.
In the Portage La Prairie School Division there are ten Hutterian schools. The enrolments range from 19 to 45 students in kindergarten to senior high. K-8 is handled by the on site staff and high school students are serviced through on site visits and video-conferencing. High school students take courses through an ITV (Interactive Television) system.
On a typical school day the English teacher takes over the students after they have had an hour of German school. From 9:00 to 11:30 AM the children receive instruction in Language Arts and Maths. The afternoon begins at 12:30 and before dismissal at 3:00 PM the staff must cover material in all the other required subjects. The students get a short break at 3:00 PM and then have another hour of German School. High school classes are from 9 to 11:30 and 12:30 to 3:30. This accommodates the noon meal differences.