Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Reality, Meet Fiction: Education

Thanks for joining me for the blogiversary celebration last week! As always, I'd love your feedback on new post series or ideas for the blog. You can get in touch with me by using the contact form at the right. 


Over the last  few generations, the number of people attending institutions of higher education has exploded. Attending college in the U.S. has become more of a rule than an exception, and ever-higher degrees seem to be required in the workforce.

The rise of technology, increasingly complex jobs, and a shift away from an industrial society have encouraged this change. Yet, it seems to be a self-feeding cycle, with more jobs than ever requiring a degree from an institution of higher education, where a high school diploma used to be sufficient.

As it seems more and more necessary to attend college, the increased costs of college seem more daunting. Much debate has raged over who should pay for education, especially at higher levels. (Here in the U.S., K-12 public education is payed for through tax payers' dollars).

So, while it may seem like I'm bringing all this up to start a debate over higher education, that's not my intent. It's certainly a good debate to have, but it's better suited for other arenas. What I'd like to talk about is how we can use these concepts in our stories to create a more realistic world in our stories, and how it can introduce conflict into our books.

How are people educated in your world? Is there formal education? Or is it something that families do?

How long does school/education last in your world? How soon do kids/ adults have a choice over what they want to study? Are there expectations for you to follow in your family's footsteps? Are you expected to obtain more extensive education than your parents?

Are men and women both educated? Is there any type of segregation in learning? How are those lines drawn--race, gender, religion, economic classes, intelligence?

How is the progress of students assessed? Are there standardized  tests? Is there a rite of passage for students for their graduation?

What doors does education open for  your characters? Do people have prejudices against those who have a lesser education?

Fun Facts:
-At some medieval European universities, students actually voted how much to pay their professors.
-Education has looked quite different through the ages; during the Medieval period, a common set-up for a day in higher education involved lecture in the morning, followed by an afternoon in which students and teachers would debate different questions.
-College debt has replaced credit card debt as the largest source of debt in the U.S. (Source. This is a really interesting article if you're interested in this subject, albeit from a more informal site).

What is education like in your country?


  1. I love this series, it makes me think about my world-building more (which has always been a weakness of mine. Like why would I spend time talking about the education system when instead I could write LET'S GO ASSASSINATE SOMEONE but it is important to note how those assassins were educated).

    Fun fact: University in Australia used to be free, but now we have a HECS loan (for citizens only, unfortunately (hence the gap year)) where the government basically loans you tuition money, then when you earn a certain amount per year ($50,000 possibly?) it comes out of your pay check. My old boss was still paying his HECS back, and he'd graduated ages ago but you don't really notice the money missing, I don't think.

    1. That's an interesting way of doing things. I wonder why they switched from it being free to being paid for. *Makes mental note to research later*.

      Thanks for the comment! I'm glad you like the series so far.

  2. This is really interesting! I've never considered this. . . deeply? I usually just try to make sure my characters have somehow acquired the basics, how to read and write, do numbers. XD At the same time, I have a lot of difficulty accepting the fact that I might one day have to write an illiterate character because the education just was not available to them. I can't think about how a person could/would function without the ability to read. But it's going to have to happen eventually.

    1. It would definitely be interesting/difficult to write a character who was illiterate. Eragon out of the Inheritance cycle was illiterate at the start of the first book.

      Thanks for the comment!


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