Monday, September 03, 2012

School Days

Now that we've reached one of the most dreaded periods for children, back-to-school time, I was wondering about schools in Oz. We know that schools exist in the land, as the Woggle-Bug describes being educated in a rural schoolhouse by Professor Nowitall, the most famous scholar in the nation. I get the impression that this was a one-room schoolhouse, as the readers at the time would have known. Most schools in Oz are probably like that, and I doubt all that many children receive extensive educations. There might even be somewhat of a bias against school in Oz, as Ozma herself says of the insect's college, "You see, in this country are a number of youths who do not like to work, and the college is an excellent place for them." We learn later that the students spend pretty much all of their time in athletics, with academics taught by swallowing pills. Are these pills distributed throughout the land, however, or are they only used at the college? Do other institutions of learning operate in the normal way, with teachers and all that? I would imagine so, but the Oz books pay very little attention to this aspect of life. There are many child protagonists, but the native Ozites among them tend not to discuss education. Since a lot of children also don't age beyond childhood, I would imagine that they stop schooling eventually anyway, and instead help out with their parents' trades or strike out on their own. Even the children living in Ozma's palace, who spend much of their time playing games, have some responsibilities in helping to rule Oz. Dorothy went to school in Kansas, but not in Oz, as far as we know.

Are there any other places of higher learning in Oz besides the College of Art and Athletic Perfection? It's never entirely clear. Halidom has a college of heraldry, but I don't think that's a college in the sense that Americans tend to use the term. An Oziana story called "Nero Zeero: Snoz of Oz" also mentions Snoz University in Snozland, a small kingdom in the Winkie Country, but it appears to be only locally known. In The Runaway in Oz, we meet Alexample, a twelve-year-old boy who was rated Talented and Gifted and hence allowed to tend college at a young age. This college is, of course, the Woggle-Bug's school, but Alexample isn't particularly interested in athletics. I know how that is, and I could certainly see it being a problem for Ozites who want to pursue a university education without having to focus on sports. Even in Oz, where you can take a pill to learn a lesson, the educational system has its problems.

2 comments:

Sam A M said...

I prefer not to think about any school lessons or sport in Oz - it seems to diminish the magic of Oz . . . and while you mentioned Dorothy going to Kansas school, one time - after reading the book for the first time - I, for a while, remembered Dorothy saying the name of her teacher from "Dorothy and the Wizard", which of course didn't actually happen. And for the life of me I can't remember what I thought the name was (and of course it's be a she teacher).

Nathan said...

It wasn't Miss Gulch, was it? {g}