Tag Archives: Adult

How to Build A Fictional Education System

Few things say as much to me about a culture as its education system. What a society values, it teaches to its young, and that means its values are at the core of any system designed to teach and enculturate children.

Education is a big issue right now. People are drowning in student debt, but many of them are unable to get jobs in the fields that they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire qualifications in.  We’re wrestling with questions about what education is for, what constitutes a good one, and how much it should cost.  Eventually, questions like that will (or should) filter into our speculative fiction.

There are lots of middle grade and YA books where schools function as a setting element.  Harry Potter, Vampire Academy, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid come to mind. In those stories, if education is relevant at all, it’s a catalyst for adventure or an obstacle that the characters have to deal with while trying to get what they want.  So the education systems are familiar: residential English school, American-style public school. They’re a backdrop, or a motif, not a problem in themselves.

Adult lit doesn’t spend much time on education at all, unless we’re dealing with some kind of magical initiation and training. In those cases, again, the method and problems associated with the educational system are usually not discussed beyond the protagonist whining or complaining about the hardass mentor. I’m betting we’ll see a shift in the next 10 to 15 years because more and more people are returning to school later in life, and we have increasing numbers of college grads who can’t get the jobs they want.

Check out The Foxes of Synn by Rose B. Fischer

I’m also betting on this because, in the past five years, I’ve had two long-term, large-scale spec fic projects up-end themselves and decide that they were suddenly going to start making a HUGE DEAL about how the education systems in their societies are broken, holding people back, and need to change.  Well, I’m not a political writer, and I’m not a psychic, but I do pay attention to social movements, and I listen to what is important to people.  I didn’t plan to write about education, but I figure if both of my story worlds have decided that education needs to be written about, I’m gonna go with it.

So, when I realized this was happening in my work, I took a step back and started asking myself some hard questions. What is the purpose of education? David’s tackled that here in a Feminist Friday Post and here in an analysis of education in Naruto. What does the ideal education system look like? Who should have access to education, and who should pay for it? Is education really the social equalizer? The more questions I asked, the more I didn’t have good answers – and I still don’t, but that’s okay with me because I never want to preach to my audience.  I want to pose questions and let my readers make up their own minds.

I decided to get more purposeful about the education systems in my universes, though, and to that end, I came up with a list of “ideal education system criteria.”

Continue reading

Advertisements

Thoughts on Seconds

Seconds CoverSo, yesterday I started and finished reading Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley. First off I highly recommend it if you have not read it because it is so good. I love Katie as a character and think that they use a very creative premise to essentially show what it means to grow up.

The basic idea is basically that Katie discovers a way to have a do-over on moments in her life. She keeps getting second chances on what happened, but as she moves further back through her life things begin to get a little strange. One of the big ideas presented in this is trying to make your life perfect, but what does that really mean or even look like? Also, if you could create a perfect life would you even recognize who you are in that new world if the moments that define who you are had not happened? (Spoilers for Seconds after the jump.)

Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share – New Car Smell Edition

weekendcoffeeshare

If we were having coffee, I’d lament the fact that we were having coffee in my new car. I’m totally going to spill.

For many, I suppose a new car would be a cause for joy. I’m sure we’ll get there, too. But for most, I’m sure that they spent time looking, thinking, saving money, planning, and mentally preparing.

We did all that in under 24 hours this week.

We took my car into the shop for its 90,000 mile service this week. Apparently a good thing, because they found oh so much wrong with it. With the different service amounts added up, and the question to me to proceed… I said let me call you back.

The first consult was over to Kelley Blue Book, where I found that their higher end estimates on what I could get for my car were really close to the number I was just given over the phone. Certainly within $100.

So Holly and I talked. We talked to family. We called a friend who works at the dealership for advice (it’s a small town).

Because putting the value of the car into it for service just felt like a bad idea. But putting off service, when driving around the Geek Baby, seemed like a worse idea. Going without a car when one of us is taking care of the Geek Baby and one of us is at work just didn’t seem like a good long term plan. If we lived somewhere with really good public transportation then considering going without a car wouldn’t be such a burden.

We knew we couldn’t afford a down payment (yay unpaid parental leave… grumble grumble John Oliver grumble) but family was supportive there. We had made a plan, a budget, for this year, so that we could take leave. And unexpected costs keep showing up – and this one takes the cake (hopefully…)

We weren’t sure if we could make loan payments then either – we’re still paying on a car loan for Holly’s car, which we saved and planned to buy for maybe a year or more. The same sort of planning we wanted to do to buy me a newer car, say in a couple years… We also each have sizable student loans, to go with our shiny Masters degrees. Oh, and did I mention the Geek Baby?

So lately we had been thinking of options. Toying with the alternatives for when we’re both back at work. For child care for the Geek Baby. Could we each figure out a week day off, to get more time with her? Reduce our work weeks? Work weekends? One of us stay home completely? Could we?…

All of a sudden we needed to solidify our plans. We were running our finances. Making budgets. Making decisions. All in one night. We decided a number that, with both of us working full time, we could probably afford.

So the next day, with me at work, Holly went in and picked a car and told them the payments we could afford. The math went backwards from there to figure out a down payment to get the payment amount. Oh, and the trade-in on my old car? $1. Yep. It needs a lot of work…

And so, in under 24 hours, I got a new car – sight unseen.

These sorts of decisions are suddenly very different with a baby at home. There are risks I might have been willing to take without her. And even more so, all the costs this year – combined with all the lost income – made this just the worst time for this to happen. It also made us solidify our future plans.

Sorry. The weird thing is that it’s odd to be so thrown off about getting something nice, something new. But neither of us have had a new car before. I didn’t even have a car until I was 23 years old. This is all very new to us, and it’s also kind of this final feeling – I’m an adult. With all the loans and costs and budgeting that goes with it.

Perhaps I’m just lamenting first world problems… I certainly know that I am very lucky to have a really supportive family. But I think much more for us what it meant was a paradigm shift, or paradigm solidification. What we’d had before was a future full of possibilities and options, and we had thoughts as to what that was going to look like. And all of a sudden, it feels like most of the options are off the table.

But anyway, that’s our week. How’re you?

What the heck is this post? It’s a weekend coffee share post! This is a weekly meetup hosted by Diana, over at Part Time Monster. We’re trying this out over here at Comparative Geeks – tell us what you think!

Why Does Time Move Faster As We Get Older?

This is an age-old observation: time flies as you get older. That as a kid, time can’t move fast enough for you… you want to get older, or get to summer break, or just be done with school for the day… but those are all daydreams. And especially parents you hear talking about how their children’s lives have flown by. So there’s one group saying that time’s going so slowly, and one saying it’s flying by!

One of our favorite... or least favorite... sorts of clocks. Found this as the thumbnail to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-o4tZHwAww

One of our favorite… or least favorite… sorts of clocks.
Found this as the thumbnail to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-o4tZHwAww

I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and it’s grown particularly apparent as we are expecting our first child this summer. I doubt this is an original sort of thought, and it’s certainly not scientifically proven… more of a hypothesis. Nonetheless, I would say I have an idea on the answer for why time flies as we get older. Let me know what you think at the end!

Continue reading

Can We Be Too Old For A Genre?

Recently I was asking the question, what does it mean to be an adult? It seems like a good question, in a society lacking a proper coming-of-age, and where we have many aspects of dependency now carrying on late into people’s 20’s. What does it mean to suddenly, somewhere in the midst of all of that, be an “adult?”

In thinking about this question, I have also been wrestling with some opinions that I’ve read. One is Alan Moore, acclaimed comics writer, who thinks that comics are for teens, and that the adults (generally probably men/manchildren in his mind) reading comics are just refusing and failing to grow up. I wrestled with this a bit in a discussion of Watchmen on Sourcerer, and I was talking Alan Moore again today for V for Vendetta

The other opinion is that of Alejandro Inarritu, director of the new film Birdman. I read about this on We Minored in Film – great post (and it got me commenting at length) and it got me thinking I wanted to write about this. Well, rant about this. Inarritu believes… well, in his words (quoted from We Minored in Film):

“I think there’s nothing wrong with being fixated on superheroes when you are 7 years old, but I think there’s a disease in not growing up.”

So two creators, saying comics, comic movies, superheroes… these things keep us as children, make us weird or wrong as adults. And I want to respect and engage with their opinions, because unlike people who don’t even give science fiction a chance, these creators are engaging with the genre, creating works in the genre, and not just completely dismissing it. So what does it mean for a genre – like the comic book story – to be for children? Well, let me be sarcastic, and then a bit serious.

Continue reading