I hated SCHOOL when I was a boy, even though from grades three through eight I didn’t have to ride a SCHOOL bus, and at least I wasn’t sent to the enormous child-cannery known as the consolidated public SCHOOL, where a thousand children go to waste their young lives away.
Why did I hate it so much? Something resounded in my soul when, much later on, I read for the first time the opening of Charles Dickens’ Hard Times, a satire on what you get when you conceive of the world as a great factory, and the people in it as mere “hands,” mere tools. “Now what I want is facts!” cries the blunt and unimaginative schoolmaster, Thomas Gradgrind. “Teach these boys and girls nothing but facts. Facts alone are wanted in life.” The poor little girl who ends up in that SCHOOL because her father, a circus performer, wanted a better life for her and thought she could get it at this SCHOOL, is pinned to a number: she is Girl number 20. And when she is asked to give the definition of a hors…
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