How many tests have you taken in your educational career? Do you even have a clue? Tests are endless in education today. In fact, the video above explains how it seems as if many teachers in K-12 and higher education teach the test, rather than teach the valuable material. The Common Core standards that are being implemented are changing the direction of education. It seems crazy that you have to compete with others on a variety of tests to see who has the “highest intelligence.” According to Elisabeth Rose Gruner’s Keywords Essay on Education, education is supposed to be “providing ‘morals’ or lessons in citizenship and life,” but can it really do this through a standard test?
Education was much different for Laura in Little House on the Prairie. Education in this time period was more “self-directed” and based off of “what they and their society need them to know” growing up as a girl in America (Gruner). For example, Laura learned to set the table, care for their sister, sew quilts and help out with any task around the house that she was needed for. Life on the prairie didn’t require taking tests in math and history and science, but the real test was whether or not Laura could be a good girl by doing what she was told and being a good listener. This kind of learning teaches Laura how she can succeed and be a triumphant woman in her life.
Laura also learned the morals and lessons as stated earlier that taught her how to be a mannered girl. She was consistently told by her parents that children “must be seen, not heard,” and Laura reminded herself of this each time that she wanted to be a part of a conversation. Laura also learned that she had to care for her family even if she was afraid. When Laura saw the Indians in the house with Carrie and Ma, she ran inside to make sure the Indians were not hurting them. Also, when there was a fire inside the house, Laura pulled Mary and Carrie away from the fireplace because she knew they would be severely injured if she didn’t help out. These experiences taught Laura more about herself and her lifestyle than any test could have done.
There is a clear difference in the role of education for American girls today versus the late 1800’s. Education today prepares girls for the workforce, which is “what their society needs them to know” but, as the video explains, it teaches it from a different standard. Today’s system is based on the idea that every person regardless of who they are or what they can do, should be able to do the same task with the same amount of skill. I added the cartoon at the top of this post to show that every individual is different. By testing children on standards that we expect everyone should know, on the subjects we want them to learn, the video explains how we are taking some of the self-directed valuable lessons that each person is unique out of the education system. Additionally, the tests are not focused on all subjects, specifically not the stereotypical, creative thinking “girly” classes like art, cooking, and sewing, which takes the important skills learned from these classes out of the system. The uniqueness is what was focused on in Little House. Laura learned and practiced the feminine, girly skills she was able to succeed at because she knew her strengths and was able to learn from her environment rather than a textbook. This ultimately shows the difference of focus between Laura’s education and a girl’s education today.