Sunday, May 19, 2013
In our modern era, most people would be able to tell you what every child learns in school: The 3 Rs (reading, ‘riting and ‘rthimatic), as well as possibly history or “social studies” (no brain washing here! right). They may break some of these subjects up, but these are the main ones. Some schools might still have art, music, gym, shop or even home ec, but not too many it seems. But should you fold those same concepts into your fantasy cities? I don’t think so! First, ask yourself why these people are being educated. This isn’t our modern, Prussian-based, public schools intended to teach reading, maps, geometry, and civil patriotism so the next generation would be better suited to the artillery in case Napoleon rose again. (No, really, that is what the USA’s public school system is based on.) My fantasy schools depend on what city you’re in, because they all have something different as a priority. In Brinston, they believe that anyone who can master magic must be among the smartest, so in order to become a business person, you need to attend (and graduate from) a magic university. No, they aren’t all accomplished mages. The ability to squeak out one spell is enough to graduate, but they will all refer to themselves as “mages” because that proves they’re smart. See? In Helatia, the first major university was intended for naval military officers, so now every school teaches navigation as a major subject. No, it has no benefit to most of the students, but they all study it! In Rhum, the best advanced school is run by (and largely for) spell singers or bards. There, nearly all of the students take some manner of singing class. It is not “required”, but it is socially expected. So what classes are normal in your world? Recitation (from memory) strikes me as one of the more important. Imagine all those epic sagas and how bad they would get without proper recitation skills. What about geography, rhetoric, philosophy, law, military strategy, or astronomy? What about basic bookkeeping? Is that required because the graduates are expected to become business folks or do the lesser educated folks handle the actual math? Are they taught negotiation? Are they expected to become deal makers and/or court lawyers? Whatever the expectation (real or imagined), that is what they will be taught in schools. You don’t have to be logical. Maybe they are all expected to memorize some epic poem about the history of their country, but the poem is pure propaganda. Maybe they are expected to learn all about other cultures and how inferior those other cultures are to their own. Maybe everyone is trained to enter religious service, so the theology is the most important course, but so many of them fall away to pursue other careers. (This last one seems very likely if the churches control the schools.) For Fletnern - It’s all of the above!