We often take education for granted, but if you look at the world a few centuries ago, you can see what privilege it actually is. And Middle-earth is an equivalent of such a world. Unlike in our world though, there are different races - the immortal Elves carry the knowledge of millenia, and their dwellings are centres of culture and education. But even between the different kinds of Elves, there are differences - the mighty Noldor focused their knowledge on crafts and warfare, while the Vanyar living in Valinor love words and letters, and gather knowledge for knowledge itself. The Wood Elves who remained in Middle-earth are more practical, and know everything about their forests. It is a rule that the harsher the conditions a society lives in, the more it needs to focus on the knowledge connected with bare survival, and has less resources for art and culture.
And those were only the differences within the race of Elves. What about the mortal races of Men, Dwarves and Hobbits? What form did their eduacation have? Were there schools, or did they learn what they needed from their parents? Again it might depend on the class of society. While the nobles of Gondor might have private tutors, the farmers only learned what they needed for their work. And then there were some mortals who were lucky enough to be taught by Elves, like the Chieftains of the Dunedain, including Aragorn.
You may explore the topic of learning and teaching in any of these cultures. But knowledge does not have to be purely academic. "Knowledge is power", it is said, and it includes informations that can be used to one's advantage: the placement of enemy troops, the secrets that can be used for blackmailing... With gathering such knowledge, we enter the fascinating world of spies and spying - an ideal theme for a suspenseful story full of danger and adventure.
The deadline for this challenge is September 25th, but can be extended until the end of the month. If you need an extension to finish your story or picture, just write to the email below!
For writers: send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org. The contest is anonymous and the story can't be posted publicaly until the results of the challenge are announced. Aragorn or Legolas don't have to be main characters, but at least one of them must be mentioned in the story.
For artists: Submit your picture into the Teitho gallery folder of Arda-Inspired at deviantArt. The picture should be new, drawn specifically for the challenge. State that you are submitting it to the contest in the artist's comments.
Happy writing and drawing!