A short while after the Chancellor visited, something happened that caused a commotion in the city.
A school had been built.
However, it wasn’t outrageously large. It was just a modest school with one classroom, but everyone was surprised that the children in the city could attend for free, so they gossiped about it.
School was for noble children, and there had never been a public school for the common people before.
There are even adults who can’t read.
There have been times when I’ve handed out simple instructions on how to use medicine which required a little more caution to people, only to have it given back to me because they can’t read. As a last resort, I drew a four-frame comic of the explanation and handed it to them. I was rather good at drawing, having practiced by sketching plants while observing them.
Merchants knew how to read and write to a certain extent because they had to write sales slips and keep registers, but there weren’t many people who could read long sentences.
Rille-nee and I are also the same.
We don’t have any books around us. We couldn’t read in our spare time, so we did experiments. Yeah, that’s what I do.
According to Gis-nee, Chancellor Leonard has always been worried about the low level of education in this kingdom.
The monopolisation of knowledge by a few people creates disparity, and those at the bottom will remain at the bottom forever while those at the top sit comfortably in their positions and neglect their hard work. This will lead to a decline in national power.
However, there are those who oppose the idea because they believe that the absolute monarchy hierarchy will be threatened if people from lower strata were allowed to gain wisdom.
Chancellor Leonard argued that it would be better to educate the people about that as well, so he used his own money to build a school in his fief as a trial. That was why he asked us if we liked to study the other day.
I would love to study there if I can read books. I wanted to know more about this world.
A low education standard means a low living standard. I agree with Chancellor Leonard.
However, there was the matter of the apothecary.
Unfortunately, studying wasn’t included in labour. It was the same as playing in the sense that you didn’t earn money while doing it. There was a huge loss of profit.
So, I couldn’t go even when the school was finally open.
Though, Gis-nee told me that I could go if I wanted to.
But still, I didn’t feel like abandoning all of the work I had to do. I forced Gis-nee to take us in and she has taken care of us a lot.
My desire to learn grew stronger every day, but I managed to suppress it with my sense of responsibility and reason.
However, Gis-nee asked us a favour one day.
“Go to school.”
She didn’t say that we could go. She told us to go.
Rille-nee and I looked puzzled.
“Apparently there aren’t any students.”
Half a year has passed since the school had opened, but the results had fallen far from Chancellor Leonard’s expectations.
Kids who worked hard like us and those who weren’t showed up at the beginning, but they soon stopped going.
They didn’t have the habit of studying in the first place.
Apparently, Chancellor Leonard, who was in the capital, knew about the situation and requested Gis-nee’s help.
“Don’t worry about the apothecary. I can manage while you’re in school.”
“Why don’t you go, Aime? You’ve always wanted to go.”
“I do, but…”
“I’ll be in the apothecary, so it’ll be fine. I don’t really want to go anyway.”
Rille-nee, Chancellor Leonard might cry if he hears that.
“No, you should go too, Rille. I’ve been asked to send as many kids to school as I can.”
I guess Gis-nee can’t refuse a request from Chancellor Leonard.
In the end, we reluctantly went to school for a while.
The school stood silently in a corner of the bustling city centre, and someone who looked like a teacher was sobbing sorrowfully at the teacher’s desk which was in front of the empty desks and chairs.
His face was hidden by his long silver hair which reached to the middle of his back, and I could barely tell that he was a man from the width of his shoulders. He was quite slender.
Both Rille-nee and I stood frozen when we spotted him from the large, double doors.
This feels… troublesome.
“Umm… We’re here to learn.”
Rille-nee resolved herself first and timidly approached the man, and I followed after her.
The teacher finally noticed us and after a moment of surprise, a joyful expression appeared on his face.
“Welcome! I’ve been waiting for you. Sit down!”
He brushed away his long, tear-stained hair. He looked androgynous and younger than Gis-nee.
He pushed us into seats that were right in front of the teacher’s podium and wiped away the tears in his grey eyes with a white handkerchief from his pocket.
“My name is Fabian Eugene, and I’ve come from the capital to help you acquire the same education as nobility. You can call me Fabian-sensei. Now, it’s your turn. Introduce yourselves.”
… His words were polite, but he sounded very stuck up.
Well, he was probably a noble too.
It seemed that nobles have light pigmentation in their hair and skins since Chancellor Leonard’s hair and skin was also light. They looked pretty and white, but they were also elegant and arrogant. He also spoke with a slightly different accent and pronunciation.
“I’m Ridill, and this is my sister, Aime.”
Rille-nee introduced herself and me while feeling pressured by the teacher who was standing between the podium and desk and looking down from us at a very close distance.
“Can you both read?”
“We can read simple things.”
“Good. Then, try reading this book first.”
Then, Fabian-sensei placed a thick book in front of each of us.
He stood on the podium and opened a book with the same cover without caring that his students were stunned.
“Read aloud from the first page, Ridill.”
Wait, wait, this was too soon.
The teaching material was too heavy. She said we can only read simple things!
Rille-nee was troubled, so I quickly raised my hand.
“We don’t know some of the words and grammar. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to teach us first? And…”
I pointed at the thing that had been bothering me for a while.
“What’s that thing you’re holding, Sensei?”
“This? It’s a whip. It’s a whip to strike the palms of students who make mistakes.”
I knew it!
I thought it was a whip. I’ve heard about chastising by whipping, but I’ve never seen a teacher with a real whip. If over-demanding parents saw this, they would go through the three stages of anger.
“You’re losing students because you’re whipping them!”
There might be students who study harder to avoid the pain.
But that was only true in situations where they couldn’t escape, like in boarding school or tutoring. They would run away in a place where they were free to leave.
I’m sure most students didn’t have motivation to study in the first place. Most of the students who came here would have been those who were curious, and yet he proceeded with the class when they didn’t know anything and whipped them when they made a mistake. Of course, they would never come again!
Fabian-sensei looked shocked. He staggered and propped himself up on the blackboard behind him.
“No way… Are you saying that it’s my fault that the students aren’t showing up?”
“There aren’t any other reasons for why they’re not coming.”
I don’t think he did it with any ill intentions. He just did it because that was how he was taught.
But he needs to learn that this wasn’t a universal method.
Teaching has always been a difficult job.
“Fabian-sensei, will you listen to what we have to say?”
Rille-nee asked in a soft tone after I harshly criticised him.
The teacher, who was about to fall to his knees, looked up.
Rille-nee told him about our past in great detail.
She talked about how we used to live without any protection, how we were always afraid, and how we didn’t know if we would survive the next day.
The teacher stopped crying and listened quietly.
“If you raise your whip against me, then I will think that you hate me and want me to go away even if it isn’t true. A lot of kids in this town think just like us.”
Rille-nee put a hand on her chest and smiled a little sadly.
I remembered the scary adults who came after us with their hands in the air while shouting.
“We may not be as smart as nobles. We may not understand what we’re taught right away. We might not remember it. But―――.”
She paused and looked at Fabian-sensei pleadingly.
“Can you please not hit a kid who is trying hard to listen to the teacher?”
… Rille-nee! Oh my! My sister said something nice!
That’s right, that’s right. It’s not wrong to make mistakes. People can learn from their mistakes. He doesn’t need to go easy on the students, but what he needs is…
“In other words, love, Sensei!”
Scolding is love and complimenting is love. If you love them then you will be able to be considerate and teach in a way that’s easy to understand!
The teacher was influenced by my strange excitement. His face became crazy, and his shoulders began to shake.
“… You’re right. I took this job because I wanted to save the oppressed children, but I forgot about that.”
He also had his own aspirations since he had come to this downtown area.
The teacher clenched his fist and shouted, “LET’S MAKE A SCHOOL OF LOVE!”
It sounded like some kind of crazy religious institution, but that’s the spirit!
“First, please prepare a book with simpler phrases! And it’ll be even better if you can teach us examples! And use the blackboard!”
I gave him some orders while he was fired up.
Rille-nee scolded me later for using a commanding tone on him.