What would you recommend as some of the best quotes for the theme of education in Hard Times?

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The best place to start in your critique of the presentation of education in this classic novel would be the way in which Mr. Gradgrind presents his personal philosophy of education in the first initial chapter of this book. Consider the words and the way that he presents his ideas, and how he is used to present a particularly utilitarian view of education:

Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!

It is worth bearing in mind that even whilst trying to insist that education should be something that looks at facts alone, he is using a metaphor that is based around nature and planting. Even whilst trying to describe an educational system that is opposed to the use of fancy and metaphors, he seems to find words futile to carry out the same reductionist conclusion that he espouses in his speech.