“In this life, we want nothing but Facts,sir, nothing but Facts”. (5)
“Girl Number 20, unable to define a horse” (7)
Sissy could of course defined a horse, but it would not have been in the terms that Gradgrind would have liked to hear. She would have said that they are magnificient creatures with shiny coats that have a loving streak and could be encouraged (not trained), to performed tasks when they so loved their master.
But Gradgrind, who I would think had no real reason to be in the classroom, and the aptly named M’Choakumchild wanted only facts in this chapter of Hard Times entitled ‘Murdering the Innocents’. Mr M’Chakumchild would strangle every bit of creativity and playfulness out of every pupil in this utilitarian world.
When Sissy Jupe told Gradgrind that her father “belongs to the horseriding, ” she was in fact talking about the trick riding of horses in a circus, for the entertainment of people. Gradgrind was adamant that he must have a more nobler, more useful profession, that of a “veterinary surgeon, a farrier and a horsebreaker”. Imagination and playfulness killed (or at least stunned), mission accomplished.
In this extended version of the filmclip of The Wall, by Pink Floyd, we see the master admonishing the boy in the class for reading poetry. Again the arts, imagination, and playfulness are killed.
The education of children was purely for the results.Little has changed. Education is not for the growing of the mind or extending the imagination, but for the testing of the mind and comparing it to others who were taught the same thing. Children are taught to compete. Who can remember the lessons taught, be compliant to the rules given and tow the line the best? It is really not for the betterment of the pupils but for the advancement of the teachers. The teachers and schools can show how well they do their jobs, and therefore compete with the funding of the almighty dollar. Think NAPLAN (for international readers, please google it).
Teachers, mentors, parents and others need to produce innovative thinkers of our children. To just be thinking along the same lines will not cut it in a world that is dying, in a world where things always need to be done better. We need to teach children to think more for themselves, to explore, to use their imagination.
I hope that in the future we might encourage children to ask why, and when they do, we will not answer with the classic “Because I said so”.