University of Wisconsin–Madison

Education

In the Keywords essay on “education,” Elisabeth Gruner discusses how the definition of education has changed over time. From its latin roots, education is the combined actions of “leading forth” and “bringing up,” but one quickly learns that those actions can be done in a number of ways. From the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries, education was based on religion and students studied in churches and used verses from the Bible to learn how to read. During that time, there was also vocational education which entailed people learning how to do a certain job or craft and the education usually took place at the shop. Then there arose the liberal education which entailed reading classic literature. Today, there seems to be an even wider variety of types of education including state-run, religiously affiliated, private, Montessori, Waldorf, homeschooling, and unschooling. 

Education is present in many books for children. In the story Kirsten Learns a Lesson by Janet Shaw, Kirsten is faced with attending school in America even though she does not know how to read, write, or speak English. All American Girl books in the historical doll collection are written to teach children about historical time periods and what life was like in America at that time. This is especially evident with “Peak into the Past” sections at the end of every book. Kirsten Learns a Lesson teaches children about what education was like for pioneers in the 1800s. Readers learn about one-room schools and the use of different levels of readers for each student. By the end of the story, children will realize that school for pioneer children was much different from their own education. 

While the story Kirsten Learns a Lesson teaches children about education in the past, pop culture teaches children about what high school education will be like for them in a few years. Despite the wide variety of education today, the majority of TV shows and movies portray generic, public high schools. A very popular show with young children was Kim Possible. It was a Disney channel show about a teenage international crime fighter who has to balance saving the world with the ups and downs of high school. From 8:10-9:07 in the video above, we see Kim going to detention and learn that detention is a “scary” place and that cheerleaders do not belong in detention. The show also depicts football, gross cafeteria food, statistics, and home economics class. After watching the show, kids will have an idea of what public school is like with the types of classes, clubs, and lecture style learning. It is clear that the writers of Kim Possible wanted to show high school education in the form of a state-run school and not a different style that is less formalized.

1 thought on “Education”

  1. Lauren,
    I really liked how you compared the depictions of education in both past and present media. This is something I had never thought of before despite being a once devoted viewer of shows like Kim Possible. It is true that many of the tv shows aimed at a children’s audience incorporate some type of middle school or high school setting. If you recall shows like, Zoey 101,That’s So Raven, and Lizzie McGuire, we can see a similar depiction of high school as to that of Kim Possible.

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