Through reading the excerpts assigned to us and from personal experience, the topic of women’s education over time has begun to fascinate me. The “Keyword: Education” essay explains education in similar ways that are depicted in Kirsten Learns a Lesson, displaying educational standards throughout time, which differ from women’s education today, exampled by the WTA’s “Strong is Beautiful” campaign. Education is a topic that receives lots of attention and is widely criticized, many times for being sexist. However, I would like to focus on how education has changed and morphed into something much more. The keyword of Education, as defined by Elisabeth Rose Gruner, “is primarily an institutional practice.” One that teaches lessons, morals, and basic literacy functions. This basic definition fails to completely encompass the complexity of the concept of education itself. Education, as pointed out by Gruner, is something that is always partial and never complete. It is continuous and runs into adult life as well.
The American Girl, Kirsten, goes through her own form of education, both in a traditional school and outside of one. Her journey alone to America taught her many lessons of grief, strength, and opportunity. While she faced challenges adjusting to new settings and learning a new language, she preserved showing strength. Traditional education in America is geared towards teaching the two genders, boy and girl, to who the teachers feel fit into those categories. They teach things like the proper way to act, duties they should take on, and they even put unconscious expectations on each gender. However, in today’s day this has shifted to accept different roles for each gender. Kirsten even replicates this in her stories, while she follows what girls her age is supposed to be doing, she defies her expected role, and goes beyond her comfort zone to become educated on a new culture with a new friend. This friend she hides from her family because she is aware that she is not supposed to be visiting with the Indian girl, however, she does so anyway because she is curious.
In a similar way, the United States’ society is beginning to educate girls on their strength and power. Other women are coming together and educating others on their capabilities. A great example is a popular organization the WTA: Women’s Tennis Association. They released a series of ads with the caption “Strength is Beautiful” with an image of a strong, successful female athlete competing, going against the norm of the expected female’s role. While we are used to seeing men advertised for sports, we are now seeing women advertised and setting an example for younger girls to learn from. This is a unique form of education, one that involves a role model and a community of people building strength together. While educating themselves on their own strengths and capabilities, they are also educating the world and defying odds that is paving a way to a new era of education and of females’ role in society.