Charles Dickens on education today
![alt text](/filestore/BlogImage/406caf23-13d5-482b-81cb-c6236e5941c2/d0ea05fa-f407-4f65-a2ff-be5f005e2a0cCharlesDickensbirthday.jpg "Dickens") It has been 165 years since the publication of Hard Times. In that time, education has been through a lot and our approaches have changed. Dickens believed that education had the potential to break the cyclical nature of poverty and save the destitute from poor physical and moral health. On his 207th birthday, what would Charles Dickens think of education today? ## The three Rs The Three Rs (a questionable acronym, at best) -** R**eading, W**R**iting and Dictation and A**R**ithmetic were central to the education of children during Victorian times. We don’t use the ‘acronym’ any more, but the focus on teacher reading, writing and mathematics has not changed. In fact, much to many teachers’ dismay, the National Curriculum in England (2014) even includes, “write from memory simple sentences dictated by the teacher…” Whilst Dickens may not have appreciated the continuing regurgitation of sentences given to students by the teacher, the **compulsory** teaching of English and mathematics to all students from 5 to 18 years old would have pleased the socialist in him. ## Facts vs skills Facts or skills? Victorian education often involved students learning facts and young people were rarely tested on their deep understanding of topics. Dickens hated this as shown by his satire of education at the time embodied by the character of Mr Gradgrind, _“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.”_ Mr Gradgrind, Hard Times (1854). Dickens was concerned that this approach would extinguish creativity and imagination in students. A similar argument ensues today over the exam-factory style of teaching that you can see in many classrooms in the UK, as a result of the growing pressure for good results from teachers and students alike. Ofsted’s move away [“from headline data to look instead at how schools are achieving these results, and whether they are offering a curriculum that is broad, rich and deep, or simply teaching to the test”](http://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/amanda-spielman-speech-to-the-schools-northeast-summit/), will hopefully bring about freedom for teachers to use facts and knowledge as a basis for developing skills - turns out it’s facts and skills, Dickens. **The rise of technology** A time travelling Delorean would allow Charles Dickens to come and see the technological advances that have been made since his lifetime. If the shock of changes didn’t cause him a funny turn, he would see just how integral technology is, not just for education, but society as a whole. It’s hard to say what Dickens would think of technology as the changes have been so colossal, but the ability for technology to provide opportunities is sure to have brought a smile to his face. Learning by Questions believes in providing the best opportunities for all young people, regardless of where they are educated. For that reason, Learning by Questions provides a [low-cost tablet package for schools](http://www.lbq.org/Areas/Shared/Content/Image/Marketing/Affordable%20Tablet%20Offer%20for%20Schools.pdf?v=126.96.36.199/) which are looking to subscribe to the platform, but don’t have the technology available. Making the learning opportunities that Learning by Questions provides available to all is central to the mission of the company. We think Dickens would approve! If you’re interested in Learning by Questions, you can [sign up to a free account](http://www.lbq.org/Register/), or if you want to know more about our tablet package and how Learning by Questions can help you improve standards and reduce workload in the classroom, [contact us via our online Contact Form](http://www.lbq.org/Contact-Us/).