In the great pantheon of Charles Dickens characters, one of the lesser lights is Thomas Gradgrind—that’s Mr. Thomas Gradgrind, sir. You may be familiar with him.
In the opening chapters of the Dickens novel Hard Times (1854), Gradgrind operates an experimental school. There, in the polluted northern British industrial city of Coketown, he sees to it that young pupils are trained according to the best principles of modern utilitarianism and empiricism.
Gradgrind’s poor students—typically “poor” in more than one respect—will not waste their time daydreaming. They will be prepared with absolute efficiency to enter the adult middle-class world of the industrial nineteenth century.Continue reading “Postmodern Gradgrindification”