A civilisation as vast as the New Commonality of Humankind has a great variety of approaches to the education and upbringing of its citizens. Here are some preliminary observations on the ways things are usually done – although bear in mind that for every world where the following applies, another exists which is quite different.
It’s common for Commonality citizens to remain in education for the first forty or fifty years of their extended lives. However, that initial educational period comprises several discrete stages.
A Commonality citizen receives a Mindscape implant at majority – usually around eighteen years of age. Up until then, an individual is variously considered an infant or juvenile, without full rights and responsibilities.
This primary educational period emphasises physical education and socialisation. The idea is to teach teamwork and community building, and to foster a sense of interdependence. Every juvenile is assigned a *mentor* – usually a small, ball-shaped grav synthetic – which acts as a personal companion and assistant, but also provides the juvenile with a controlled interface to the as-yet-unconnected Mindscape and its functions.
Mentors are eidolons. During primary education, the Commonality juvenile learns to instinctively accept the nature of eidolons and thanograms before themselves being directly connected to the Mindscape and experiencing it firsthand.
Under the mentor’s guidance, the juvenile is subject to evaluation during those first eighteen years, including aptitude assessment and specialisation streaming, as each individual is encouraged to find their niche, preferences, and strengths. The primary education period is also an opportunity to weed out and “correct” personality and other maladjustments before they become problematic. The Commonality has a *very* wide tolerance for behavioural ranges in juveniles, although individual worlds may favour certain subsets, depending on their culture.
The Mindscape Academy
Primary education ends with the matriculation of an individual to the “Mindscape Academy”, an educational centre lasting several years (for example, from age 18 to 21) where individuals receive Mindscape implants under controlled conditions, and their functions are incrementally brought online in a structured course of study and practical training. At the end of Mindscape Academy, the individual is certified to use a fully functional Mindscape implant, including self-monitoring for Mindscape-related stresses, and at graduation is considered a Commonality citizen.
During the Academy period the individual no longer has direct contact with his mentor, although many voluntarily continue to communicate via Mindscape and may remain friends throughout their lives. Mentors go on to assist other juveniles, and gradually build up pseudo-family structures of the successive students they’ve taught. This close bond may also extend between students of a single mentor; virtual and real reunions may occur, and if two or more individuals helped by a single mentor find themselves within meeting distance, they may decide to meet and share experiences. An automatic bond of trust exists between mentor descent group members which isn’t easily broken.
On the Fringe, the Temple of Universal Mind often appropriates the gateway functions of the Mindscape Academy and colours them in its own way and in accordance with the local culture. This may even include granting of Commonality citizenship to its graduates / initiates.
Commonality Citizenship and Gen-Ed Training
Mindscape Academy graduates usually embark upon advanced educational courses, usually tailored to strengths and preferences identified during primary education, although significant changes may occur as a result of Academy experiences. General Education or Gen-Ed may begin as early as age 21, and may include a decade or more of Mindscape-enhanced education and increasing specialisation, possibly including physical augmentation.
Advanced Training and First Career
At the end of Gen-Ed, individuals begin to gravitate towards their “First Career”, which may include work in the instrumentalities, pansectorates, local administrations, and so on. This usually happens in an individual’s thirties, and results in a decade-long training period in dedicated facilities associated with the chosen career. Individuals are encouraged to try multiple streams, cross-train, and so on, and ongoing evaluation and assessment continues throughout this period, including any remedial action deemed necessary. At some point, an individual will cross an arbitrary divide between “trainee” and “worker”, and begin their First Career. Choices are never irrevocable, however, and it’s common to return to training and try out many different careers and occupations during a lifetime. Some cultures are more encouraging of this than others; some may indeed inculcate a more dedicated “steady” approach to career progression and specialisation. Generally, though, by the time an individual has entered his forties, he’ll likely be completing his first period of education and embarking on his initial career.
Childbearing and childrearing are valid occupational choices, although this may depend on local culture; many Core Worlds cultures use in vitro gestation and communal synthetic childraising almost exclusively. Just as many cultures, however, particularly out on the Fringe, encourage individuals to experience childbirth and childrearing at any stage during their lives, and adopting any appropriate biological sex. This may occur when young or old, although it’s always considered an occupational choice, and thus generally not available until an individual has graduated Mindscape Academy. Genurgic contraception means that in many cultures Mindscape commands are required to even become pregnant in the first place, although there are always exceptions.
There are many different family structures in the Commonality. Mentor descent groups form one; as do the “socialisation cells” in which infants are raised and socialised. In some cases parent-infant structures exist, often based on cultural traditions, including the so-called “nuclear family”. In such cases mentors are assigned and fit into the local family structure (a bit like a child’s “invisible friend”).
In the Core Worlds, the mentor descent group and socialisation cells are probably the default; out on the Fringe, other models tend to prevail.
Socialisation cells aren’t as cold as they sound. “Socialiser” is a completely valid and valued occupation in the Commonality, with a structured career path, training and support. Individual socialisers may raise many generations of infants and juveniles, and keep in contact with them; some individuals may become socialisers for a single career period before branching out; others may leave a career for an extended sabbatical of childbirth and childrearing as an accredited socialiser. In many cases socialisation cells are analogous to “clans” – diverse yet tightly-knit local communities with citizen workers dedicated to providing a warm and welcoming environment for infants and juveniles. In the Core Worlds, there may be no genurgic link between the in vitro derived infants and juveniles and the socialisation cell adults nurturing them, but that doesn’t stop tight family bonds forming which may last a lifetime. In all cases consensus, assessment, and supervision aims to provide an optimal childhood environment.