Gnomish Childhood and Adolescence

Gnomes have a strong sense of community, and they believe that each and every gnome must do his part in society. The gnomish education system is intended to find each young gnome his or her place. Schooling takes up almost all of a gnomish child’s time.

A gnome enters Basic Schooling at the age of six years. At this point, most gnomes are not yet capable of learning the sciences that will one day be their prime occupation, so these years are devoted to developing creativity, logical ability, correct thinking and reasoning procedures, and so on. Gnomes at this age are also taught basic gnomish theology and history; those that wish may pursue these subjects further at a later stage. To pass from Basic Schooling to the School of Sciences, a gnomish child must take a special test which is meant to determine the gnome’s skill at thinking and understanding. The test is taken once a year, the first one being on the gnome’s tenth birthday. Usually, under 10% of the ten-year-olds pass the first exam, and roughly 45% of eleven-year-olds pass the second. It is very rare for a gnome to fail the third exam at age twelve, and if one does, the Guild of Education will form a committee to discuss the child’s situation. Such a gnome is generally either a particularly dim-witted gnome, or a Mad Gnome (see section on Mad Gnomes).

The School of Sciences is where young gnomes gain their foundation in the various sciences: mathematics, physics, mechanics, astronomy, biology, geography, and many others. This gives the gnomes a firm grounding in the sciences which will prove invaluable to them later on. Gnomes attend to the School of Sciences for ten years.

As mentioned, the purpose of the School of Sciences is to give gnomes the knowledge they’ll need to be successful tinkers and inventors themselves. Since most gnomes work on their family’s Life Quest, at least one day a week is spent by the gnomish students at home with their parents, learning all there is to know about their family’s Life Quest. The gnome will spend the time with his parents learning from them and helping them on their various projects. It is these hours together that help make the bond between gnomes and their parents so strong—it’s hard not to feel close to someone who saved your life when you were hanging from the straps of your Flight-Device-that-Glides-Over-Hill-and-Dale-by-Imitating-the-Aviation-Techn iques-of-Goatsucker-Birds prototype when the double-bladed motor broke. At the School of Science, classes are divided between mandatory and optional. The mandatory classes teach the basic sciences that every gnome needs to know. Beyond the mandatory classes, each gnome must attend a certain number of optional classes of his selection. This allows gnomes to specialize in certain subjects and to pursue their own interests. The optional classes cover a wide range of subjects, from astronomy or geology all the way down to astrology, reverse psychology, or the science of cooking. Gnomes interested in becoming Clerics of Reorx may devote the time normally spent in optional classes to their religious pursuits. Similar arrangements are possible for other gnomes who, for whatever reasons, are interested in becoming something other than an inventor.

It should be noted that many Schools of Sciences exist—over fifteen in Mt. Nevermind alone, and at least one in every gnomish settlement. Proper education is paramount for a gnome, so the School will be one of the more important structures in the settlement.

As stated, gnomes attend the School of Sciences for ten years, so that is where gnomes go through adolescence, which usually occurs between the ages of 15 and 20. Adolescent gnomes are impudent and rebellious as all adolescents tend to be. However, adolescent rebellion among gnomes often takes an unusual twist. The young gnome will begin a project which he will pursue obsessively, ignoring everything else. Very often, this project will be an attempt to challenge a major foundation of gnomish sciences (for example, the renowned Pictup tried to prove that gravity is only a product of one’s imagination, and was never seen again).

This phase is commonly referred to as the First Stimulation. The gnome will often refuse to attend to his studies, enclose himself in his own Experimentation Laboratory, and only emerge rarely for food or machine parts (not in that order). Gnomish psychologists have theorized that this first major project is the adolescent’s attempt to prove his worth to society. By the time the gnome reaches the third or fourth version of his device (or the equivalent if he’s working on something more abstract, such as trying to find a mathematical equation or estimate the correct average number of raisins in a muffin), the gnome will generally have calmed down a bit. He will gradually resume his studies and eventually take his place in society.

However, not all gnomes experience the First Stimulation. Some gnomes will focus their rebellion on the education system and the role society has planned for them. While they still love inventing, these gnomes desire something more exotic out of life. They will often leave Mt. Nevermind or their gnomish settlement to become adventurers. Other gnomes will stay where they are but refuse to become inventors—they will become clerics, or actors, or fact-finders, or some other occupation that catches their fancy.

Those that do no experience First Stimulation may go so far as to call into question basic gnomish beliefs and values. Most of these radicals, or revolutionaries, will quiet down before they reach adulthood, but some will retain the flame of rebellion. They may leave the settlement, and sometimes they will find followers who agree with their cause—mostly hotheaded adolescents like they used to be. If he can recruit enough gnomes, such a gnome may found a new gnomish settlement, founded upon the beliefs and values of this new rebellion. Being non-aggressive and accepting by nature, it is very rare for a gnome to attempt to drastically change the way of life in an existing settlement.

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