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How did Charles Dickens bring the educational pattern to light in his novel Hard...

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ratnap | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 12, 2009 at 3:57 PM via web

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How did Charles Dickens bring the educational pattern to light in his novel Hard Times?

what was the purpose behind describing the condition of students? critically evaluate tne eductional system in the novel (the school ,the students, the atmosphere,the teachers and the style of teaching).

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 12, 2009 at 8:36 PM (Answer #1)

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Dickens' Hard Times makes some compelling statements about the nature of the educational system.  Ahead of his time, Dickens critiques the nature of English education and, through the plight of the characters, pleads for something new to take the place of what is.  The method of teaching present in the Gradgrind pedagogy is one that determines teaching and learning as a compendium of fact based acquisition.  Simply put, the more facts a student learns, the more educated they are.  The "fact over fancy" theme appears more than once.  This model of education denies emotional growth, nurturing as a part of teaching, and negates the idea that teaching is a spiritual connection to both content and learner.  Dickens' portrait of learning reaps results that demand for change.  The notion of approaching marriage as a merger, the deception that results out of calculation, and the lack of loyalty amongst individuals are what Dickens feels is a result of an educational system that does not nourish such values in the hearts and minds of the students.  There is much to indicate that the predicament of the main characters, in its most dire form, is a result of the educational system that drives "fact over fancy."  This can be seen when Louisa realizes her fate could have been changed had she been "taught to care."  The condition of the students, and the adults, in the work only testifies to the fact that education is more than the acquisition of facts.  There is an emotional, spiritual, and psychological component to education and discarding it can prove to be disastrous to both individual and society. With such an assessment, Dickens is ahead of his time in his advocacy for educational reform.

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