Wednesday, August 21, 2019

World Building: Don’t Need No Education…Right?

How the people of your world are educated
Rebecca Mikkelson, Editor-in-Chief Authors 4 Authors Publishing
Last week, I briefly mentioned schooling in my Magic post, and this week, I want to expand on that for your general population.

Who is educated?

This is a pretty easy question to answer; either the mass population is educated, or education is for the elites. Depending on what kind of story you want to tell, only elites being educated can be a very effective tool in keeping the masses in check. If they can’t read and don’t have the basic skills for forming a rebuttal against a well-educated person, it’s very difficult to fight back.
If we take an example from religious history, this is actually one of the points in Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. The Bible had only been printed in Latin, and how could a commoner who doesn’t know how to read the religious texts make any sort of decisions for themselves in regard to faith?
If your mass population is educated, however, you’re like to have a more advanced world with new technologies and advances coming from every level of the social system, and it will put your people on equal footing. No one can cast down a person for lack of education.

Who are the educators?

This is really going to depend on that kind of story you want to tell—which is likely something that you’re going to hear in every section so...sorry, not sorry.
We have several examples in history of the kinds of teachers that you can have for your world. If you look at ancient Rome, they eventually founded a system of education that was based on tuition, much like the college that we have today, and before that, the children were educated at home by either slaves for that purpose or freemen. We’ve all seen the period pieces where there’s a governess in the home to teach the children privately, or there’s a school house for an entire village/town that educates through a wide range of ages. And then we also have tax-funded and mandated education systems like we have today, where children attend school—or are homeschooled—from kindergarten through their senior year of highschool, and if they want to continue their education after that, they can by going on to trade schools, community colleges, and universities.

What is taught?

Say it with me, kids: “This is going to depend on the story you want to tell.”
Do you want everyone to know the basics of reading and writing? That should be taught. Does everyone need to know the entire history of their world? Maybe. Maybe that’s a subject that’s more specialized based on the career that the people want to pursue. Education in your world can easily be a la carte if you want it to be, or you can model it after your own education, where you had to learn math, science, reading, writing, history, etc.
Another question that will come into play is, if you have magic in your world, will the theory of magic be taught to everyone, or just those who possess it? And if only those who possess it are learning, will they branch down an entirely different path for education than a non-magic user, or will they still need to learn the same thing?

What types of schools are there?

Well…I think the title of the section says it all, really. What types of school are there going to be in your world? There are plenty of options that we see all around us in our own world, but will you be translating them to yours?
You can have governesses and schoolhouse teachers as mentioned above, private schools for people who can pay for them as you did in ancient Rome and today, charter schools, public schools, trade schools, wizarding schools, community colleges, universities, and the list goes— Well, it doesn’t really go on, but I think you get my point.
There are a lot of options for you in your world that you can easily find in today’s world to model it after, so you don’t have to struggle with this part of your worldbuilding as much as you might think. But, as I’ve said several times throughout this series, and I’ll say several times more before it ends, make sure that whatever decision you make for your education fits within the world you’re creating and the story that you’re telling.

Join me next week when I talk about advancements.

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