Thanks for the long response, I will address these points in chronological order. Hopefully quoting the starting sentences will be useful enough.
‘I’m not going to argue…’
So, to perhaps clear up a primary issue I should say I am British. Hence the specific time periods and mannerisms of any schooling process I am only familiar with through secondary sources. Whatever the formative period of the day is called I would say there are generally two very important things he does during this period which I find fundamentally odd: the first is the menial elements of process which he performs. In my experience institutions of great repute tend to either lean on the side of mandatory and monitored attendance, or err on the side of student choice in time allocation (which most students meet the expectation of anyway). If the former, then I wonder why this institution like so many wouldn’t have a digital system for registering (to increase learning time). If the latter, and the academy operates more like a university, again classes are elective. The utility of the current system is clear however, you are introduced to peers within the class. The cost however I think at this most basic level is of impressing on players.
To move more specifically on to your remarks. When you say that Oak is intended to be a universal teacher I find this extremely odd. At almost any university with professors those who are the most qualified have agreements wherein they do the least lecturing. Moreover, when they do so, it is usually for the older students in more specific areas of learning. What therefore is odd, is that Oak is in the position of both being shown to have a hi-tech research lab and throughout both games and anime, being so interested in research as to galivant around the world as well as even become distracted and lose track of time in his thoughts yet is happy to teach the most mundane of lessons to the students. This I find quite an odd clash with the reality of institutions and an issue with the character of Oak as players of the franchise will have come to know him. This therefore is a two pronged assort, either he is meant to be like he is presented before this game, in which case the paternalism and attachment are well done (if as I stated overdone, Oak tends to admire hard workers and dismisses those attempting shortcuts throughout the main series; friendliness should not be decoupled therefore from expectation as far as I see it) or he is meant to be like a prestigious academic within an institution, in which case his menial task performance that exploits none of his special skills are particularly interesting. Your quotation I think is rather overstated. I am not suggesting people are thinking particularly about the behaviour of an individual in such a literal way; what people will do however is compare expectations and compare to reality. Both of which are enhanced both in the simplest form by distance (which is to say a great character is made greater when there is significant build-up or changes in respect over time) and by him being much like people would expect a genius to be. Even within the pokemon universe I think it is key to note, that there are trainer schools and professors assistants to guide you through the basic steps of battle and the professors are intentionally made distinct from this.
Your Harry Potter comparison later is actually a good Segway to how you can retain a paternal relationship whilst providing academic realism. I forget the name of the chap who forms his own private club for the top academic achievers, but in both this franchise and in my own experience, the most lauded academics at your institution certainly do form genuine and interesting relationships with students (anyone who has seen how many great research combos of student and supervisor who go on to publish ought know this) but usually by way of the students either performing particularly admirably in the first case, or directly approaching these figures with ideas or discussion (certainly behaviours I can see in the repertoires of some of the characters beginnings presented thus far in the series). Thus, I could say I am not against Oak’s characterisation, but perhaps it is too universal?
‘As for Oak’s speech…’
On this section I think we agree and disagree to degrees based on what we assume esoteric means and how I would operationalise its expression. The first thing I would say is I have never met a biologist who is not esoteric by nature. When one dedicates one’s life to the study of any element of nature the terminology is not a signal of anything but a more clarified meaning. In my experience (I have worked significantly with neurologists and discussed often with evolutionary biologists; I lack specific experience with a pure academic biologist therefore) therefore what these people will do is by default use the specific terminology. This isn’t to say it is beyond them to then adjust their language if the audience doesn’t understand but that by default the language appears and if the other member of the discussion follows they retain it. Siddhartha Mukherjee perhaps best put it when I listened to him on a podcast for a relatively non-field exposed audience. He offered two explanations one that would be precise and esoteric but would not leave gaps by speaking through allegory the other would be comprehensible by most, but would lose things. He was tasked with the latter; he still used words he then had to define what they meant by approximation. The point being that for academic’s terminology is not esoteric but natural. That they can explain it in a more simplistic way I will give you makes for the most widely exposed academics (Oak fits in here therefore). However, people like this will almost always test their discussion partner, because if you already understand the references and terms they make, the discussion will be both richer and more accurate for both parties. (This would also allow ego stroking for players for instance having Oak mention something wherein either you can confirm you know of it immediately, or listen to his explanation… seems relevant to the insight trait if nothing else XD.) I should just emphasise big words are not esoteric words. I think you want Oak to be eloquent and precise, not verbose. Least be it because he hasn’t presented himself as verbose (Main franchise), but also because this can be saved for people perhaps like Erica for significant impact.
‘Oak’s familiarity with…’
This may be difficult for me to articulate so pardon me if it doesn’t come across well. I think most of what you said is correct here. I do not think that I want any of these attitudes presented and felt to be removed. What I intended to say when I talked about this encounter, is that I think it should be balanced by the things I mentioned. Oak is very familiar with Red (and his mother I am sure). I am also sure that he has a great deal of attachment to another potential Pallet town prodigy. However, in my reading f Oak throughout the main series he is an accommodating pleasant man, but not one without expectation. I appreciate what you say when you talk about him being good at interacting, and I don’t want him not to be so. I do however think that in this case being good might mean encouraging Red to invest more effort and to strive for greatness. The scene at the moment seems almost too accommodating even for Oaks personal relationship. Especially given in this rendition of the story Red is not under a great deal of stress (at least to Oak’s knowledge, nor at least to my own) it seems odd for Oak to not be a little more of the expectant parent than the friendly uncle. This is an aside point but I think also pertinent. The scene at the gates emphasises that entry to this academy is tough, and highly selective. Regardless of Oaks respect or position of power, he has staked his reputation on Reds inclusion. I think therefore the protagonist would be more reticent as he approaches this encounter but also why I think Oak would want to at least pressure Red to not squander the opportunity (I also think this can be done in a positive way which you I think rightly would prefer. For instance, Oak simply encouraging Red to visit all the opportunities, or inquiring as to how he has already spent his time with a reminder that there is more to encounter could do this.)
‘Your idea about…’
I would imagine that these houses would be competitive and led by the professors. This is perhaps more alluding to my school days/ school knowledge across the seas, but Houses usually give the students a way to feel connected to those of most esteem at the university, and plenty of opportunities to be exposed to them, if not to meet them in the way that we seem to presently. I wouldn’t think the houses would be formative in how people are classed from then on, but it would perhaps bring sense to an otherwise odd ‘form’ division at present and could also present ample opportunity for the professors to interact in a humorous competitive fashion. As for Semantics, I haven’t thought much about them but a division based on even region could likely work; someone more creative than I can likely come up with a good system if this idea was ever pursued. I don’t know if the system I envision would match one or other of your suggestions however, so pardon my dodge.
Again thanks for the response, I think a lot of what you said is key because often it is not that I disagree with the things you talked about being included at all, it is just that I think they need some counterbalancing at some points.
Lost in Mapland