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How does Dickens present education - and in particular Gradgrinds philosophy of education in Hard Times?

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How does Dickens present education - and in particular Gradgrind's philosophy of education - in 'Hard Times'? Charles Dickens novel Hard Times is a classic story about family problems, detachments and inappropriate family values set in industrial England. The main point of the story focuses on Thomas Gradgrind, a single-minded man who lacks emotions and whose philosophy is one dimensional. In order to discuss how Dickens presents education, in particular Gradgrind's philosophy of education it will be important to look further at the following points: Gradgrind's teaching style, interaction with his pupils and finally Gradgind's personality. Thomas Gradgrind was a man built on the idea that facts and statistics were the only truth in life and all that was needed to have a healthy and productive life. Gradgind's teaching style can be seen as regimented and one dimensional. For example, he believes in stating facts based on principles and has no time for anything outside the obvious. This can be seen at the beginning of the first chapter when Mr Gradgrind says, "Now what I want is facts. ...read more.


Gradgrind has no imagination, creativity or inspiration of any kind because he has only one goal in mind. When Gradgrind speaks to his pupils he doesn't let them explore their thoughts of vision. For example in the conversation about horses with his class he quotes "Do you ever see horses walking up and down the sides of rooms in reality- in fact". This shows that Gradgrind has no ability to believe in images or ideas in the mind, especially of things that never will be seen in reality. When Gradgrind addresses the pupils he uses an order to instruct, because he wants everything in the right classification of arrangement, for example when communicating he underlines them as numbers rather than names, for example "Girl number twenty". This is his regimented way to organize his pupils because the children are not allowed any independent thought which takes their personality away from them. Also Gradgrind shows no respect for the students and believes he is superior to them. Another sentence Gradgrind uses: 'Sissy is not a name.' ...read more.


Dickens describes Mr M'Choakumchild as an intelligent man, the subjects and skills that he studied show that his knowledge was very high. For example " Orthography, etymology, syntax and prosody...". He believes that fact is all that the children need to know in life. Dickens chapter title gives an implied meaning, "Murdering the innocents" this gives a violent impression. This can be interpreted as cramming the pupil's minds with facts and overpowering their ability to think in a wider context. In conclusion, it can be seen that Dickens presents Gradgrind's philosophy of education by portraying Gradgrind as a gruelling man, who is only interested in his own way of doing things. It is his teaching of facts and excluding imagination, fantasy and understanding. He is a very hard man and is representative of the title, for example Industrial England was full of hardship where people were poor and lead simple lives. Dickens also uses irony to symbolise his point, a good example is the name 'Mr M'Choakumchild'. It is ironic because the schools philosophy is to cram the children's minds with facts thereby choking them. Dickens has succeeded in writing the opening chapters about education, and his use of language is very effective. ...read more.

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