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Examine the presentation of Education, chapters 1 to 4 in "Hard Times" by Charles Dickens

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Introduction

Examine the presentation of Education, chapters 1 to 4 in "Hard Times" by Charles Dickens Charles Dickens wanted to attack the failings of education and the wrong-headedness of the prevailing philosophy in education. He believed that many schools discouraged the development of the children's imaginations, training them as "little parrots and small calculating machines" (Dickens used this phrase in a lecture he gave in 1857). Nor did Dickens approve of the recently instituted teacher training colleges. These had been set up in the 1840s, after the British government acknowledged the need to raise the standard of education in schools. The first graduates of these training colleges began teaching in 1853, a year before the publication of Hard Times. M'Choakumchild, the teacher in Gradgrind's school (which was a non fee-paying school that catered to the lower classes), is Dickens's portrait of one of these newly trained teachers. Many educators agreed through time-sharing Dickens's view of what were wrong with the schools. They believed there was too much emphasis on cramming the children full of facts and figures, and not enough attention given to other aspects of their development, for example "'NOW, what I want is, Facts. ...read more.

Middle

Dickens employs two powerful images in this paragraph to illustrate the destructive nature of Gradgrind's brand of schooling. In the first, Gradgrind is portrayed as a weapon firing facts whose purpose is to "blow [the children] clean out of the regions of childhood." Dickens makes the weapon a cannon rather than a pistol or rifle to make the assault that much more brutal. In the second, Gradgrind is a machine -- a "galvanizing apparatus" -- and the children are partially assembled products who are having one part, their "tender young imaginations" replaced by another, and a "grim mechanical substitute." Once again, Dickens emphasizes how much this style of education depersonalizes the children by giving them numbers. When at the end of Chapter 1 he referred to the children as vessels "then and there arranged in order," he must have been referring to this numbering system. 'Now, if Mr. M'Choakumchild, said the gentleman, 'will proceed to give his first lesson here, Mr. Gradgrind, I shall be happy, at your request, to observe his mode of procedure.' ...read more.

Conclusion

The first object with which they had an association, or of which they had a remembrance, was a large black board with a dry Ogre chalking ghastly white figures on it...No little Gradgrind had ever seen a face in the moon; it was up in the moon before it could speak distinctly. No little Gradgrind had ever learnt the silly jingle, Twinkle, twinkle, little star; how I wonder what you are! No little Gradgrind had ever known wonder on the subject, each little Gradgrind having at five years old dissected the Great Bear like a Professor Owen, and driven Charles's Wain like a locomotive engine-driver. No little Gradgrind had ever associated a cow in a field with that famous cow with the crumpled horn who tossed the dog who worried the cat who killed the rat who ate the malt, or with that yet more famous cow who swallowed Tom Thumb: it had never heard of those celebrities, and had only been introduced to a cow as a graminivorous ruminating quadruped with several stomachs." This shows a bit more about Gradgrind's views on education and the way he raises his children. Word Count - 1090 ?? ?? ?? ?? Matthew Willbye 1 ...read more.

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