25 3 / 2012
How long do ponies go to school? Is school mandatory? These questions came to mind after my last post, and I think about it every time I see scenes from The Cutie Mark Chronicles because of the fact that filly Cheerilee is clearly seen performing in Rarity’s class play, meaning that Cheerilee is the same age as the mane six.
Ponies seem to customarily get their cutie marks some time during their school days. Getting a cutie mark is not grounds for graduation, so I’d assume that ponies graduate at a certain set time—but I also think that ponies are allowed to drop out of school if they have specific aspirations in life.
I think this because in The Cutie Mark Chronicles, the mane six all appear to be the same ages that the Cutie Mark Crusaders and their classmates are now, and we know that at least Rarity and Cheerilee were in school at the time: but other ponies’ status as such are questionable.
Most notably, Applejack, who decides to go to the big city. One would assume that she left school to do this. Maybe she transferred to a school in Manehattan? It’s not very clear. Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if Applejack went straight to working on the farm when she returned home. Applejack may be intelligent, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she wasn’t highly educated.
Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash interestingly attended “flight school.” Obviously only pegasi can attend flight school, but the question is, do they all? Is it an alternative to mandatory education? Or is it a post-education? The last option seems unlikely, since while Fluttershy definitely seemed a little bit older than the rest of the mane six at the time, Rainbow Dash did not.
But if flight school is an alternative to regular education, this raises more questions still. Do all pegasi that live in Cloudsdale go to that school? Are pegasi from other cities allowed to go there? Are there alternative flight schools? How do pegasi that don’t go there learn to fly if there aren’t? (I’m looking at you, Scootaloo. And the fact that Scoots can’t fly pushes the question even harder.)
Sooner or later, I’m going to write something about how talents and embracing destiny shape pony society, and Fluttershy is going to make that very interesting, because she raises a point of contention over the matter. Fluttershy’s talent and destiny is clearly tied to her communication with animals, yet she is called upon for the duties of pegasi, such as creating a hurricane. Moreover, almost all other pegasi seem to have expertise in flight. It seems like pegasus society may be far less accepting than the rest of pony culture. But we’ll save that for another time.
Fluttershy ended up going to flight school, possibly missing out on a regular education, only to probably drop out and take up a job dealing with animals. No doubt her natural talent led her to immediate success in this field, as she ended up being the singular force of animal communication in Ponyville. Lucky break?
Rarity definitely appears to have gone to school with everyone else, and since she was already interested in fashion while in school, there’s little reason to believe that she ever dropped out. Maybe that’s why she has so much class?
Twilight Sparkle is obviously the most educated member of the mane six and is notably *still a student*. We recall that she was taking a test to enter an academy for gifted unicorns, so this, like flight school, raises the question of whether such is a “next step” in education, or an alternative. When I was in elementary school, I was transferred into a “gifted” school not unlike the way Twilight was supposed to be, so I imagine that where she was going to go was quite the same. It was probably a booster school that could’ve propelled her to magical pony college eventually. However, Twilight ended up being the kind of genius who, rather than go to college, became a direct apprentice to one of the world’s best scholars, so her education is totally beyond the realm of other ponies.
Pinkie Pie’s story, if taken to be true, is perhaps the most interesting, because she may not have even attended school to begin with. It’s implied that Pinkie’s family all worked to rock farm and nothing else, and it’s possible that Pinkie moved to Ponyville after discovering the art of party simply because she couldn’t be contained anymore.
This would explain her character incredibly well. First, in terms of her job: Pinkie’s job has never been very clear, and as I noted in my analysis of episode one, she seems to work as an apprentice/helper to the Cakes in exchange for living in their attic. It would make perfect sense of Pinkie’s lack of education and job training led her to sort of drift around and find a simple way of life such as this.
Moreover, this would explain her difficulty in communicating with others. Pinkie is probably a genius, but her genius comes out in totally unfocused and unintelligible bursts. If Pinkie has never been educated, then all of her genius comes from outstanding logistics (which she definitely has) and her own conclusions drawn about the world. It’s too good a theory to ignore!
Rainbow Dash is an interesting case because as far as we can tell, she learned exactly what she was supposed to from flight school and got exactly the job flight school prepared her for. However, there is also the suggestion that she was kicked out of flight school. This may be true, and RD may have been so good that she got a job anyway. It also could be that RD was simply so good that she graduated early, and this just isn’t understood by her classmates (after all, she insists that she wasn’t kicked out, though she’s not given time to explain). Whatever the case may be, it’s doubtful that RD ever paid attention during school, and more likely is just so passionate about flying that she’s the best there is. She’s lazy about her job, but she’s so good at it that it doesn’t matter.
Now, the pony I want to talk about most here is actually Cheerilee, because of the fact that she’s apparently the same age as the mane six. I suggested before that pony schooling only lasts up through primary education (say, till age ten), and that the mane six have been out of the system for about five years at least. What’s interesting about Cheerilee is that she’s gone on to become an educator.
For us humans, you need to attend college to do that, and what I’ve described in this post does suggest that a pony college could exist. For Cheerilee to have already attended college and become an educator at her age, I think it necessarily must be true that primary education is the end of mandatory pony education (if it even is mandatory). The only other way she could be a teacher is if the truth of special talents is that they magically make one good at whatever their talent is (and I highly doubt that this is true).
24 3 / 2012
I’ve been thinking about how old each of the mane six are relative to one-another. As far as I know, the only time age is definitively mentioned in the show is when Fluttershy says that she’s a year older than Pinkie Pie. If we take her to literally mean a full year, then I think it sets a decent spectrum for their ages.
I feel that way because in The Cutie Mark Chronicles, Fluttershy definitely appears to be a little bit older than the rest of the fillies. Moreover, Pinkie Pie appears to be the smallest. This puts everypony else in-between, which is a lot harder to sort.
If we judge ponies by human standards, then we’d say that ponies can be at different stages of development while being the same age. We’d also say that their body types might all be different.
There’s a lot of leeway here. After all, despite the ponies having vastly different lifestyles, the main six are all the same size. However, we do know that ponies can come in many shapes and sizes, even at the same age. See the CMC’s class, which has the likes of Snips and Snails, who have totally different body types. Moreover, our imagination may be called into play here. In Winter Wrap Up, Applejack remarks that Twilight is “going awful fast for such a small pony.” To us, Twilight and Applejack appear to be the same size, but maybe we’re meant to imagine that they aren’t?
With this level of ambiguity, there’s no way to determine the age differences between ponies without knowing their exact ages. Regardless, here’s my guesses.
Fluttershy clearly appears to be the oldest, appearing almost a whole head taller than the other fillies in The Cutie Mark Chronicles.
After her, I’d go: Rarity, older than Twilight, older than Applejack, older than Rainbow Dash, older than Pinkie Pie.
I realize this is a really insubstantial estimation but oh well.
Question 2: Just how old are the ponies? Lauren Faust mentioned once that she left it ambiguous because she didn’t know if the ponies should age like humans, or like actual ponies, since either way would be rather confusing. She concluded that the ponies were simply “old enough to live on their own.”
Regarding pony aging, I think it’s pretty safe at this point to think that they age at the rate of humans, considering the range of ages displayed in the show, including the geriatric ponies. However, this need not mean that the mane 6 are of the standard age 18 for being considered an adult.
Pony society is a lot more simple than modern human society thanks to the whole cutie mark phenomenon. Ponies have a definitive talent which their lives are based around, so as soon as they find that talent, there’s no reason to believe that they wouldn’t join the work force semi-immediately. We see that there is only one school in Ponyville with one class of young ponies, so I would assume that ponies only undergo a primary education before moving into the workforce.
It would help if we saw some ponies that fell into a pre-teen range; not so little as to be primary schoolers, but not old enough to be professionals. Perhaps young apprentice ponies and scholar ponies.
Assuming I’m correct about pony society and aging, this leaves the mane six possibly as young as fifteen or sixteen. They wouldn’t be younger, because all of them have fully matured bodies (going by all of the other ponies in the show). As for whether they’re older or not, it’s hard to decide. All of them are highly skilled at their craft, which might make me aim a few years older, but at the same time, if you had one definitive skill which you spent most of your time perfecting, it would only take a few years to get really damn good at it.