Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. 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 upon which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts Sir!".
With these opening words of the novel "Hard Times", Charles Dickens introduces us to the character and philosophy of Thomas Gradgrind, whose rigidity and narrow-mindedness make him the villain of the novel. He has adopted Utilitarianism because he believed it was in the interests of the people. His is a genuine mistake, as he did not try to advance his own interest by suppressing those of others. He believes that Utilitarianism is the "One Thing Needful" and he does actually seek to help people. He wants to tell Sissy, the girl from a local circus about her father abandoning her, because he believes that knowing the truth is the best option. He does not intend to hurt her feelings. Dickens feels that many people simply abused the theory of Utilitarianism to indulge their egoism. That is why he is more tolerant of cases like that of Gradgrind, who at least acts out of the best motives. Others, like Mr. Gradgrind in Charles Dickens' Hard Times established their schools to ensure that their own individual views and philosophies were passed on to the next generation. Mr. Gradgrind's own children of course do not attend his school. They are educated at home by tutors - as befits his social position! The need for skilled labour produced the need to educate people. However this education was not for the development of personality, but for the benefit of the whole society, as Jeremy Bentham said "the greatest good for the greatest number". .
In Dickens' view, this classroom has been intentionally created as a factory whose express purpose is to manufacture future workers.