Windemere Education: More than Warriors & Casters

Hyrule Castle because I didn't want to use Hogwarts

Hyrule Castle because I didn’t want to use Hogwarts

C.S. Boyack asked a question a while back about education in Windemere.  Now that marketing for Crossing Bedlam is done and I haven’t gotten to the promoting for Tribe of the Snow Tiger, I can answer this.  That and I needed time to think because most fantasy stories do one of two things:

  1. This is a medieval setting, so only the nobles are educated while the peasants are left to survive in ignorance.  You learn your family trade, which is usually farming and pray you aren’t the generation that gets eaten by a dragon.  Reading and writing is beyond you, which never explains how there are signs in town or how anyone can use them perfectly.  Best not to think about it because this is how it was on Earth and it’s how it is here.
  2. We don’t talk about it.  A character is only as educated as he or she or it needs to be.  I will only use a school teacher for a love interest.  Wait!  Why is everyone leaving the room?

Seriously though, this is something that doesn’t come up a lot.  By the time you meet a hero, they are either trained for what they are on the road or about to meet their mentor to be trained as either a warrior, priest, caster, thief, or bard.  Some varieties appear, but you never really have a reason to go into the meat of a world’s education system.  At most, you will put a school in the background along with a teacher and some kids.  Yet, none of that answers the question and I’m beating around the bush.

Leaving out any cultural, racial, and regional differences, everyone is taught the basics needed to survive in society.  This is reading, writing, counting, and simple math.  It’s done at a local school that is tasked to see if you have any special skills to be moved into a warrior or caster school.  Thieves tend to be more of a ‘upon request’ trade.  Now history and geography are taught at home through stories.  Some of the more general tales are used to teach reading in school such as the Great Cataclysm and the Crash of Mylrix.  But for the most part, you learn about your people and history from grandparents and parents.  If not at home then you can easily find a bard at a tavern who is willing to tell children about the world.  Many times these places will hire kids to clean the table, so they can earn some money and hear stories.

All of this is basic education, so you’re probably wondering about when a child gets to be a teenager.  Many do go into the family business, especially with small families or those that own large farms.  Others seek out an apprenticeship if they want to work outside of their family’s influence.  It isn’t surprising for teachers to set this up early if they see that a student has a specific interest.  You learn on the job while getting paid and, if you’ve traveled far from home, a place to live.  Many career paths have more knowledge than we realize.  For example, an apprentice for an architect would learn how to draw and plan along with effects of weather, attributes of materials, vermin defense, bargaining for supplies, and running a business.  You see, a good master looks at an apprentice as an investment and future partner.  If not a partner then a symbol of how good they are at their job and with teaching.

This is the basic education system of Windemere, which does vary from place to place because of cultures.  Elves would have a different way of teaching history than orcs because of their racial pasts.  Not to mention orcs are very tribal and elves have no central government or cities of their own.  Still, I do like to have a world that is more educated than ignorant, especially with your basic peasant.  This way it doesn’t come off as a world where all nobles are selfish fops and everyone else is lucky enough to tie their shoes without injury.  Those worlds are always strange because it makes the protagonists seem out of place if they’re educated like nobles, come from peasant backgrounds, and don’t fall into either mental category.  They simply stand out like an elephant in an elevator.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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18 Responses to Windemere Education: More than Warriors & Casters

  1. Those last couple of lines are something that never occurred to me. We are conditioned as readers and viewers to run everything through our own filter. Ancient reality was likely very different than it comes across in various media. There would be a rift between classes caused by education. Plopping a hero on the page could pose some problems in getting him or her to mingle among the classes. The Windemere education system sounds like a great solution. Thanks for explaining this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome. The final point actually came to me the day before I wrote this. I was looking over various fantasy heroes and got to an anime called ‘Lodoss War’. The main hero came from peasants, but seemed educated like most Dungeons & Dragons characters. It just dawned on me that he wouldn’t make any sense in a real world setting. Unless, as you said, our perception of ancient reality is twisted by the media. We seem to pay more attention to the fictional side of things since pre-college schooling doesn’t cover that era.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s cool that you pay attention to this, and even better that you share your thoughts. I think all of us have things to share, and this interaction is priceless.


      • Thanks. Honestly, I only glossed over it in my mind until recently. Never thought it would be that big of a concern at the beginning. I think creating new cultures and looking at how real world ones interact helped in this. The idea of culture shock and language barriers made me want to put something in Windemere that reduced that problem. Have enough global disasters that unite people and there might just be a push to eliminate the smaller issues.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a good point too. Some of the apocalyptic stuff out there works that point well. Bigots have to accept help from the group they dislike, that kind of thing.


      • That’s always an interesting story. Works of the enemy of my enemy scenario, which is something that more people have to face than we probably realize.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jean Lamb says:

    The phrase you used “everyone else is lucky enough to tie their shoes without injury” triggered a memory of a line from LOVE AT FIRST BITE (Vampire parody movie, you have to watch it if you never have)–‘they must be from the government, they’re wearing shoes’–lots of peasants didn’t wear shoes except in winter, and then they were made from a number of different materials, not all of them very good. But you’re dead on about education. I moved my highly educated hero to a land where the language and alphabet were different, thus negating everything he’d learned (this is in a book not yet published, the sequel to HATCHLING). But…he knew how to learn from his studies while younger, so when he had the chance to go to a dame school in exchange for water hauling and firewood-chopping, he was able to make use of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • L. Marie says:

      Your book sounds very interesting!


    • That movies sounds familiar, but only because I think I saw it on a TV listing recently. Vampire parodies are always odd to me.

      Excellent point on how to overcome that flaw. We tend to forget that researching is a skill. I know some people who believe whatever they hear or read without looking into stuff. Others simply research in a method that resembles firing a shotgun from long distance. You might hit the target, but there’s a good chance you’ll only get frustrated. We definitely should remember this area for our characters too.


  3. L. Marie says:

    Great post, Charles! I enjoyed the comments as well. I agree with coldhandboyack about the filter aspect. Because education (at least through high school) is a given in our society, we make assumptions about the characters we read about (i.e., everyone able to read and write). So I appreciate your education system. So true about the apprentice being an investment.


    • Funny how the assumptions come into play with so many fantasy aspects. Since we’re creating new cultures, there are bound to be areas that conflict with what we grew up with in reality. A safe method is to copy the real world, but then you lose some of the magic. At least I think so. Good example is when you have a fantasy world that isn’t Earth, but real world religious prayers get uttered at points.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very interesting and quite logical. The exceptions to convention would make for some interesting characters.always enjoy these background pieces.


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