Gradgrinds philosophy of education in Hard Times

Also he believes himself to be factual and proceeds upon a principle to be accurate. You can see that facts are very important to Mr Gradgrind as the word “Facts” has a capital letter most of the time. Dickens seems to give an over the top description of Mr Gradgrind, using dull, monotonous language through which he shows us that Mr Gradgrind’s attitude towards education is purely based on facts. Dickens also presents Gradgrind as a very well organised man, who is described as “square”. “Square wall of a forehead”, where everything about him is dry and inflexible.

Dickens has described this character for a reason, to make the reader imagine a very dull, unattractive character. Dickens use of repetitions creates effect on the character such as ” In this life, we want nothing but facts, sir nothing but facts! “. This implies that Gradgrind is a firm believer of education and is accustomed to only one explanation, and he doesn’t consider anything more complicated. 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. ‘ Here he tells Sissy that her name is ridiculous and that she should change it, ‘Call yourself Cecilia. ‘ This shows Gradgrind is ignorant to what the students may want or believe. He also wants everything in an appropriate order because of his factual regime.

Gradgrind produces a quite ridiculous question for Sissy to answer ‘Girl number twenty, give me a definition of a horse’ Sissy knows what a horse is as she was brought up with them, but she is unable to answer Gradgrind’s ridiculous question because she does not know what the word ‘definition’ means. Bitzer is then asked to describe the answer, he does so correctly, ‘Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth… ‘ This answer goes well with the question, it is also ridiculous, this is emphasised by the answer being something that a student of this age would not know.

Bitzer’s mechanical reproduction of facts is the approved product of Gradgrind’s system of education. Dickens uses other character’s names to create effect in the philosophy. For example Mr Mr M’Choakumchild who is portrayed as an unpleasant teacher at Gradgind’s school. His name suggests that he is not very fond of children, which stifles or chokes their imagination. 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.

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