Every childhood experience is rooted in education. The word “education” may mean something different to everyone, but it is always a vital and foundational part of a child’s development and everything a child experiences is part of their education. In Elisabeth Rose Gruner’s article “Education” in Keywords for Children’s Literature, Gruner describes education as “primarily vocational…or more holistic,”(70) where the former is typically a more formal school education in which children learn to be “productive adults” within specific focus areas and the latter is a more nurturing form where children learn a broad understanding of the world.
The stories of Josefina and Kaya focus on a holistic education. While they never go to a formal schoolhouse for education, they are constantly learning how to live in the world through their everyday interactions with peers and superiors. The website amysmartgirls.com, while it is a modern variation, also focuses on this holistic type of learning. According to their website, “Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls organization is dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves. We emphasize intelligence and imagination over “fitting in.”” To me, this description perfectly represents what the American Girl company is all about: learning about historical characters for girls to become a strong, independent and intelligent people in society.
Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls often publishes videos and articles that align with this mission. One video that stood out to me most in relation to what we have discussed in class is called “Modern Manners with Amy Aniobi.” In this video, which is the first of a series, Amy Aniobi talks through how to, in a world of social media, introduce oneself in multiple different settings. These lessons are exactly the things that girls like Josefina, Kaya and even Laura learn throughout their girlhood that help them mature. And, in regard to this website, these lessons that girls have learned historically continue to be important to reinforce today – especially in the digital world.