It is interesting how the educational system and culture are set up in Lois Lowry's The Giver. First of all, only 50 children are allowed to enter the community when they are born, and even then the children aren't named are numbered. They only receive a name if they make it through their first year of life and are then given to a family. After that, each grade is referred to as "Fives," or "Nines," or "Elevens." With almost every advancement in years, the children of the community either obtain a new privilege, such as Nines receive bicycles, or they lose a symbol of youth, such as Eights having their comfort objects taken away.
Finally, the ceremony for the Twelves is when the children enter into service for careers and jobs that they will hold for the rest of their lives. No doubt this is why Jonas feels anxious about his life because at the opening of the book, he is just a couple of weeks away from turning 12 and receiving his assignment.
Jonas's father tries to calm his son's nerves about the assignment process by telling the story that his own assignment was not a surprise since the Committee of Elders always choose assignments based on each child's aptitudes and skills. Jonas finds out that his father felt as though he knew he would be called as a Nurturer before the Ceremony of Twelve. The following is Jonas's reaction to his father's story:
Jonas was surprised. There was no way, really, to know in advance. It was a secret selection, made by the leaders of the community, the Committee of Elders, who took the responsibility so seriously that there were never even any jokes made about Assignments. (15)
So, up until age twelve, students attend a public school where they are probably taught the basics of reading, writing, and some basic math; however, they are also drilled very strictly in following the rules of the community. But it doesn't stop there! Parents also enforce the community's rules at home, even to the point of drugging their kids when they hit puberty so that they learn not to be attracted to, or fall in love with, other students. One might say that the children's lives at home are just an extension of the government's education system.
Ultimately, however, after the Ceremony of Twelve, students receive a packet that tells them which job they must report to the next day to start their internships and apprenticeships. They work and learn as apprentices for a few years, probably up through age 18, and then move up the ranks in their specific jobs. And thanks to the drugs, no one falls in love, everyone follows the rules, and all live in peace and comfort without any consequences. It's the perfect life, right? Or is it?