TGL Volume 5, Chapter 30 (2)

Huh. It’s been a while since I’ve heard Sophia. It’s not unusual for her to go quiet; it usually means she’s taking a nap, but today, she invited a few of her friends over. Even if they were trying to keep the noise to a minimum out of consideration for me, it’s too silent. Don’t tell me they went somewhere without my permission. I think I’ll take out a tray of snacks and head on over to Sophia’s room to see exactly what they’re doing and to see if they happen to be hungry or not. “Hello, Sophia. Are you or your friends hungry? I brought some snacks!” 

“Snacks?” There was a thumping sound followed by the familiar creaking of Sophia skipping on the wooden floor. The door swung open, and I used that chance to block Sophia’s line of sight with the tray of cookies for a brief moment. Luckily, all I needed was a brief moment to understand the situation within the room. Then, after seeing that Sophia’s friends were all seated nicely around a table with papers in front of them, I crouched down to be on level with Sophia’s face. Her tail flicked, and her eyes lit up. “Ooh! Cookies! Thanks, Mommy!” 

Sophia grabbed the tray and skipped back to the table, placing the snacks down right in the center. Other than Ri, Sophia invited four of her classmates, none of them which I was familiar with. When the four of them saw me looking in their direction, they lowered their heads and pointed their gazes down at the papers in front of themselves. I think I discovered the reason why it was so quiet in here. Sophia’s classmates are intimidated because I’m the vice-sect leader, and their parents most likely told them to be on their best behavior lest they incur my displeasure. I wouldn’t, but it’d be very easy for me to condemn a family to ruin with just a few simple words. 

“Mommy,” Sophia said and waved at me to come in. “Do you want to see what we’re doing? It’s something Auntie, err, my master taught me called specialization!” 

Specialization? Isn’t that choosing a field of study like alchemy or blacksmithing or array formations? I think it’s a bit too early for Sophia to consider specializing in something when she barely has any experience with anything. “Of course, let’s see what Sister Ilya’s teaching you. Whatever it is, I’m sure you’re great at it.” 

Sophia chuckled and grabbed my hand before leading me towards Ri. “Look.” 

Seeing as Sophia’s not elaborating, everything I need to understand the situation should be in front of Ri. I’m not sure if there’s a problem with my comprehension, or if there’s a problem with Sophia’s way of communicating information, but I don’t get it. It looks like Ri’s doing homework that the school assigns every day. To encourage the next generation to learn, Sister Ilya created a whole ranking system with homework involving monetary rewards for kids who do well, giving a chance for those who aren’t as well off to stand on an equal level as those who are. 

“See?” Sophia asked, her round eyes staring up at me. “Ri’s doing all of our formation homework. Lucy’s doing all of our math homework. Veronica’s doing all of our language arts homework. Robin’s doing all of our cultivation homework, and Chi Chi is doing all of our history homework.” 

…I’m not sure if this is what Sister Ilya has actually been teaching Sophia, or if Sophia misunderstood Sister Ilya’s teachings. “So, this is specializing because everyone’s doing the homework subject they’re the best at?” 

“Uh-huh.” Sophia’s head bobbed up and down. “Instead of everyone doing all the different kinds of homework, it’s faster if we work as a group where everyone specializes in one subject. That way, we have more time for cultivating!” 

“I don’t think specializing applies for learning general knowledge….” In the first place, these kids are going to school to get a well-rounded education. “What happens when you have to take a test, but you don’t know how to solve any of the questions because you didn’t do that subject’s homework?” 

“Tests don’t matter,” Sophia said and puffed her chest out. “All that matters is cultivating and becoming stronger. If you’re strong enough, you can improve your memory and use jade slips to learn anything you didn’t already know. We’re doing the homework this way to monopolize the top places for the resources the school gives out. With those resources, we’ll definitely get stronger faster than everyone else.” 

Isn’t this cheating? Sister Ilya implemented the reward system to create a fair environment for everyone to compete. If people start copying each other’s homework, the rewards no longer become about working and studying hard; they’ll be about who knows the smartest person in the class. “You can’t do this. It isn’t fair to the people who’re learning by themselves.” 

Sophia tilted her head. “But life isn’t fair,” she said. “The sooner people learn that, the better.” 

What in the world? “Did Sister Ilya tell you that?” 

Sophia blinked and nodded at me. “Life’s not fair, so you have to do everything you can to struggle to get ahead of others. Some people are smarter than others. Some people are better at making friends. Some people are born into good families. Some people are born in the street. Everyone has their own way to survive, and none are inherently better than others.” 

I might not know much about children, but I’m pretty sure someone as young as Sophia shouldn’t be thinking thoughts like these. She should be thinking about what’s for dinner or thinking about playing games or having fun. I’ll have to have a stern word with Sister Ilya because that demon is leading my child down the wrong path. I wonder if Sophia actually understands what she’s saying or if she’s repeating Sister Ilya’s words like a parrot. If she does understand, then who did she inherit her intelligence from because—I’m not ashamed to admit it—I wasn’t as smart as Sophia when I was her age, and Lucia’s…, well, Lucia.

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