What is hypnopaedia teaching in Brave New World?

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Hypnopaedia or sleep-teaching is a way that the governing bodies in Brave New World teach children about morality and class distinctions. To impart information onto a child, speakers placed next to the child repeat slogans and messages while they sleep in order to ingrain those messages in the child's memory. These messages promote societal ideals regarding class roles and proper behavior regarding sex and conformity.

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Hypnopaedia is teaching children in their sleep. As children in the World State have no parents, they all live in dormitories. Every night they hear repetitions of the ideas that the state wants them to internalize. They listen to these ideas repeated so often that they grow up brainwashed or conditioned into thinking that these ideas are the truth, not merely opinions. The adults also appear to think these are their own ideas and opinions, or at least don't question them or where they come from. Lenina, for example, is constantly thinking that the khaki color the Deltas wear is "beastly," as if this is her own taste, and rejoicing over and over that she is not a Delta. She never stops to wonder why she holds these opinions. They simply seem natural to her.

Hypnopaedia is a form of passive, rote learning and central to the education of children. Nobody, with the exception of Alphas, is taught to think critically or independently, and even Alphas' thoughts are censored.

From what we witness, the hypnopaedia in the World State emphasizes consumerism, conformity, and contentment with one's place in the caste system. While dehumanizing, it allows the social order to run smoothly, which is the highest value in this brave new world—and what Huxley satirizes.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Explain hypnopaedia and its purpose in Brave New World.

Hypnopaedia is first introducted in Chapter II of this dystopian classic, and is shown to be yet another form of conditioning babies in their early years to instil within them certain moral principles. Whilst babies sleep they are played a message repeatedly over and over again that makes them accept their social role in the heirarchy of this society and encourages them not to challenge their social position. Note what the text says about hypnopedia:

Wordless conditioning is crude and wholesale; cannot bring home the finer distinctions, cannot inculcate the more complex courses of behaviour. For that there must be words, but words without reason. In brief, hypnopaedia.

Hypnopaedia is therefore illustrated as being a form of moral inculcation that occurs in babies whilst they are asleep. It is based on the form of subliminal messages that shape the thinking and attitudes of babies, making them happy with their lot in life and unquestioning about why they are the way they are.

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