Describe Grandgrind's model school in the novel Hard Times.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Gradgrind's model school in Dickens' work is a result of the utilitarian model motivated by the Enlightenment gone sadly awry.  We can see this in the opening chapters.  The direct method of instruction is one where Gradgrind lectures his students.  He is the font of all knowledge and instruction ends and starts with him.  There is little in way of student voice or reflection in the process of learning, which is seen as "top- down."  The students sit in rows, strictly defined.  When students are called upon, they are asked to give direct answers that reflect a mirroring of what the teacher has already said.  The room is described as a "vault."  Gradgrind does not refer to the students by name but rather by number.  Sissy Jupe is "girl number 20."  The emphasis of instruction on "fact, not fancy" is something that is brought out in the early stages and helps to bring out the idea that education is factory- like, and structured in a manner that does not allow voice to be heard.  It rather seeks to bring out the cold manner of education and of Gradgrind's school, where emotions and personal insight are not meant to be treasured, but rather to obstacles to be overcome.

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