How did you feel about Mr. Gradgrind's theory of education?

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

Posted on

Dickens' creation of Gradgrind's teaching style seems to be a direct indictment of capitalism and a world where acquisition is the sole driving force.  Gradgrind's mantra of "facts, not fancy" and his lack of developing an emotional affect in his students, his children, helps to create a setting where the acquiring of capital and the failure to acknowledge other forms of the good is present.  This ends up having fairly disastrous emotional consequences in the end of the work, as the children become adults who lie or steal and who become emotionally impotent in being able to deal with the challenges that consciousness offers.  In a larger sense, our current educational model seems to have understood where Gradgrind's failures lie.  We are now much more open to teaching "the whole child" and embracing other methodologies that are willing to place facts and factual learning in a context of critical thought.  It is interesting in the United States, though, to examine Gradgrind's model of teaching to the current federal mandate of No Child Left Behind, a formula for determining educational success through percentages and standardized tests.  Given how some school districts have had to cut back funding for co- curricular activities such as the arts, perhaps Gradgrind's vision is more present than we would like to admit.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Mr. Gradgrind's theory of education is very different than the theories of education we know believe in.  He wants to just cram the kids' heads full of facts.  This is specifically because he does not want them to be thinking.

Nowadays, we have gone almost 180 degrees away from that.  We emphasize thinking over learning facts.  I sometimes think we have gone too far away from facts (especially in math and science) but I certainly do not think we should do like Gradgrind.

His way of learning is not good for our modern society.  Things change so fast nowadays that people need to be able to think if they are going to get ahead economically.

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