What is hypnopaedia teaching in Brave New World?
While at the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, the students, accompanied by the director, were being taken around the institution so they could observe how the people were produced and trained. The students got to learn about the Bokanovsky process which standardized the Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons by forming ninety-six identical twins from a single egg of each group. These identical twins would then work in identical environments performing the same activities by strictly adhering to the principle of mass production. Apart from hatching embryos, the students learned that the institution was also responsible for predestination and conditioning of the embryos to ensure they fit adequately to their future lifetime roles in the outside world.
“We condition them to thrive on heat,” concluded Mr. Foster. “Our colleagues upstairs will teach them to love it.”
The students proceeded to the Nurseries (Neo-Pavlovian Conditioning Rooms). It was here they learned of Hypnopaedia or sleep-teaching. The D.H.C. told them a story of how Reuben, a young boy in the past, was able to repeat information he had heard from the radio when he was asleep. Hypnopaedia in the new world was used to deliver moral education to the babies and introduced them to class distinctions. Hypnopaedia was some form of Classical Conditioning (learning through repetition while using a stimulus). In the new world, it was practiced when the babies heard a particular piece of information that was repeated over speakers positioned close to their cots as they slept. The purpose was to embed this information in their memory.
“Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfuly glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able…”
This information was repeated to the sleeping Beta babies so that they recognize their station in life and grow to accept it as the best.
A type of sleep and subliminal conditioning, hypnopaedia is part of the mental programming system of the New World--one of many ways in which science is used as an instrument of power.
In Chapter 2 of Brave New World the Director explains the principle of "sleep-teaching." Contrary to what was originally believed, science cannot be taught through hypnopaedia because one "must know what science is about" the director explains. But moral education can be taught through sleep-conditioning because, the director points out, it "ought never, in any circumstances, to be rational." Therefore, the World State has children learn such things as class consciousness as they sleep. To exemplify his point, the Director has what is being broadcast to the children under their pillows:
....I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are....too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides, they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I'm so glad I'm a Beta.
Along with Elementary Class Consciousness, the children are also taught Elementary Sex. This programming makes the children believe that "everyone belongs to everyone else." Engaging in sexual activities are merely recreational acts without any significant meaning because the residents of the New World are conditioned to believe that there are no true personal relationships. There is no such thing as love because at an early age, children are programmed in their sleep to believe that sexual engagement with others is only for recreational purposes. In addition, children are programmed in their sleep to believe that Nature is of no value, and they learn no aesthetic values because they must also be involved in the consumption of goods instead.
Hypnopaedia is sleep teaching, and the controllers use it in Brave New World to "condition" its populace to accept promiscuity, use and abuse soma, and "brainwash" them to accept the values and tenets of the Brave New World. Hypnopaedia is a form of subliminal reinforcement whereby hypnopaedic slogans such as "a gramme is better than a damn" are played while the individual is asleep. While awake, the individual will spout off these slogans automatically and behave however the controllers want them to behave.