Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 8
Academic and Physical Streams
"I don't know why you think you have the right to decide that I shouldn't attend the horsemanship class," Claude said as he gave Arbeit a cold glare of discontent, "Compared to some utter fool that had to spend more than five thales on horsemanship lessons and still can't ride one properly, I can already ride a horse fine, much better than you in fact, before having paid a single penny. I guess you're just jealous because I have talent in riding. You don't want me to continue improving my horsemanship to satisfy your petty little ego, huh?"
"You... Who are you calling an utter fool! I... I'm not jealous of you!" cried Arbeit as he jumped up with a flushed face. Claude's words was akin to a blade that had cut right into his most sensitive insecurities.
Claude had already transmigrated for half a year already and sometimes, he felt that the world he found himself in was really weird. There were many things that were similar to his previous world, such as there being seven days in a week and that people would rest on Sundays to pray in the shrines of their respective deities. The kingdom of Aueras also required all its subjects to have basic education and built national schools for that purpose.
However, there were also a lot different. For instance, there were two moons in the sky, and the belief system in this world was polytheistic rather than monotheistic. Each of those deities also have their respective roles. A farmer would worship the earth goddess for better harvests, while sailors would worship the sea god that held sway over the weather and storms in the ocean. Warriors naturally worshipped the war god and those striving for love and health worshipped the silvermoon goddess and the sun god that brought light to all living beings.
The part that troubled Claude the most was the weird education syllabus the kingdom had. It was really different from those of his previous world. The subjects of the kingdom could choose between two education streams, however, it wasn't a choice between the science stream or liberal arts stream. Instead, the two systems are the academic and physical streams. The academic stream focused on teaching its students the six subjects of language, history, arithmetic, theology, geography, and nature.
Claude found the language classes to be remarkably different from those in his previous life. The lingua franca in Aueras was Hebrai, a language that had its roots in the ancient language of Hez. It was used mostly on the eastern part of Freia. Nations such as the kingdom's arch rival, Nasri and the exterminated and annexed Berkeley used that language.
The language classes taught in elementary school were simple. One had to learn to recognize words, be able to read them and compose fluent essays. The Hebrai language didn't use alphabets. Instead, it used rhombus-shaped characters. One unique quality of those characters was that there was a large symbol on the top of each character and a small one on the bottom. Neatly written words in that language would look like little, upright-standing ants. In some sense, the script of the Hebrai language resembled the logograms Claude was familiar with from his previous life. There were more than six thousand recorded characters in the dictionary formed from different symbol combinations and the meaning was apparent from the symbols used.
In middle school, the language classes used a combined syllabus. Apart from having to learn some more uncommonly used words, students would also have to learn how to read and write specific terms used in business and administration as well as two other commonly used languages across the continent, Jimil, which was used often in the north, and Leishart which was popular in the central part of the continent.Those two languages also branched off from ancient Hez and could be considered sister languages of Hebrai.
History was a subject that was given great focus in schools, but our transmigrator felt that it was primarily used for propaganda and brainwashing. That was because the history taught in class wasn't general history about the continent of Freia, but the impressive feat of the founding of the Aueras kingdom and the achievements of each of its kings. Stelllin IX's exploits took up half of what was taught in class. Every time during a test, the main focus would be given to the war that led to the kingdom's restoration, the Tricolor Conflict, such as what tactics the king used to defeat his enemies during the war and so on, much to Claude's annoyance.
Arithmetic classes in elementary school concerned basic addition and subtraction while basic multiplication was taught in middle school. Geometry or substitution wasn't taught in school at all. What Claude didn't understand was why they would also include auditing and estimation in the syllabus.
Theology classes taught about the myths concerning various deities. It was worth noting that different deities were worshipped and prayed to in different ways. There were also varying taboos for believers of different deities and students were expected to focus on that.
Contrary to what its name might suggest, geography was actually a primer on business planning. Apart from describing some basic information about which islands around the continent having what kind of mineable resource, it focused more on the local cultures of people across the continent and put great focus on the specialties sold in those places as well as the price difference between products across different areas.
Nature studies resembled basic combined science. Claude thought that it was basically an irresponsible subject that the authorities came up with by combining biology with general knowledge. Most of the material covered the different qualities of plants, animals and insects. It could be that the scholars of the kingdom studied that aspect most intently. He recalled reading about a conclusion of which part of a goat's fur was most suitable to be made into scarves.
Normally, academic stream middle-school graduates could easily find a job in the various departments and earn enough to feed their families. Claude's brother, Arbeit, was recommended to become the personal secretary of a lower house member, Sir Fux, because of his first place results.
The physical stream on the other hand focused more on training students' physical abilities. Among them included marathon training, swordsmanship, boxing, wrestling, shot put and stick-fighting. During the second year of middle school, students would be taught horsemanship and in the third year, they would be given firearms training. Claude sometimes felt that he was in an army recruit training camp rather than at school.
Even though students were divided based on their academic streams, they weren't sent to separate classes. They were only expected to focus on different subjects. Every student, regardless of stream designation, took the same subjects. Academic stream students had to take physical stream lessons and so on.
The former owner of Claude's body was assigned to the physical stream because his grades were horrible beyond repair. Fortunately, he did have good physical abilities to make up for it and was considered among the top of his stream in school. As for his elder brother Arbeit, though he was a first-place graduate of the academic stream, his grades in the physical stream subjects were horrendous and among the lowest in school.
Take for example the horsemanship classes. A second-year middle-school student should be able to more or less ride a horse properly after a month of classes. After another month of lessons during the third year, the students could be considered proficient enough to ride just about any horse they could get their hands on.
However, the star of the academic stream, Arbeit, had spent two silver thales on personal horsemanship lessons lasting two months long in total during his second and third year in middle-school and still couldn't ride stably on a horse. From time to time, he would put up a performance of the most entertaining ways to fall off a horse, making the boring horsemanship classes one of the most entertaining times for the other students in his class. Some people even started betting rings to see how long he could remain seated on the horse.
They lived in a time when horses and carriages were the main mode of transport. So, Morssen had little choice but to spend another three silver thales to hire private trainers for his eldest son. But the results were disappointing. Half a month later, the horsemanship instructor helplessly informed Morssen, "Your eldest son rides like a log on a horse. While he'll be able to hold on when the horse trots slowly, the slightest increase in speed will see him falling. Don't even think about a gallop. I'm really sorry. Your eldest son really doesn't have the slightest talent for physical activity and that is beyond my abilities."
The only silver lining was that the horse he used was gentle and they were practicing on soft, grassy ground with the instructor paying close attention to everything. Arbeit wasn't injured that badly after his countless falls, much to Claude's disappointment. However, that did cause Arbeit to develop a minor trauma for horses and Morssen gave up on having his eldest son learn how to ride one.
"Shut up, Claude!" Morssen snapped, "You are a physical stream student and Arbeit is an academic stream student. Don't compare your strengths with your brother's weakness. Only when you can get first place in the whole school like he can are you allowed to lecture your brother."
Claude pouted. He didn't want to get first place. When the school collected model essays written by the successive academic stream students who got first place and distributed them for other students to refer to, Arbeit's essay was included. It was even scored with full marks. But Claude almost vomited blood when he read it.
It was an essay praising Stellin IX in which all sorts of flamboyant, flowery forms of praises were used. The essay itself was hollow and pointless, doing nothing much but kiss ass in the most novel ways. Only a really shameless person could come up with such an essay and it was no wonder the instructors of the school had no choice but to give it full marks. After all, any correction could be interpreted to be dissatisfaction with Stellin IX and no instructor worth his salt would dare to commit the taboo of offending the Stellin royal family.
Morssen took out a gold-laced, black deerskin money pouch and took a shiny silver thale out of it and put it on the table. "Claude, I'll give you what you deserve. As a father, I won't favor any of my children over the others, nor would I mistreat any single one of you. Since your brother spent one silver thale each semester for horsemanship lessons, it will not be different for you. When Little Blowk grows up, he'll also receive the same treatment."
Claude looked at the silver thale on the table and said, "But Father, I need a little more money to buy some books. I heard Boa mention that our town just got a new batch lately and I want to go take a look."
Arbeit glared at the silver thale on the table as if he was trying to melt it with the flames of rage that were shooting out of his eyes. The moment he heard what Claude had to say, he exploded. "You? Buying books? Aren't you just trying to trick Father for money to mess around with those rascals you call friends?! There are more than a hundred books in the study and you have more than enough to read!"
Claude smiled. "I'm really disappointed in you, Elder Brother. Even though Father gave you permission to use the study, you didn't utilize it properly.I already read all the books once during the past half year and even made quite a number of notes. If you don't believe me, you can go check out the bookmarks and dog-ears I made on the pages."
"You?! You read all the books once?" said Morssen with disbelief.
"Yes, Father," Claude said with a nod, "I even sorted the books according to the categories. The way you guys arranged it was far too random back then."
"Very well. It's great that you like to read," Morssen said happily as he took out another small silver coin, "One riyas should be enough, right? Ah, whatever. I'll give you two riyases for books."
Claude nodded with a smile and took the two small silver coins. "Thank you, Father. I've finished breakfast, so I'll be heading to school now."
He then went upstairs to take his bag from the attic.
Angelina wiped her mouth with the linen cloth on the table and stood up. "I'm also finished, so I'll be going now."
She then left with the deerskin bag beside her.
"Father..." Arbeit looked at Morssen.
The middle-aged man waved casually. "Arbeit, you are a little too harsh on your siblings. Actually, I don't mind Claude asking me for spending money at all. What I'm worried about is him lying to me with an excuse for it. Whether he buys a book can easily be verified. We'll just see if he brings any back."