Adventures in Coketown, England - 1854

Rules:

Dear Gamer,

Welcome to Adventures in Coketown - a dynamic, nonlinear learning journey whose map is Charles Dickens's classic industrial novel, Hard Times. There are several preliminary rules to go over before we embark upon the game journey:

  • Grading will be different: You do not start with 100% average; instead, everyone begins with ZERO XP points.
  • There are no due dates for particular assignments; instead, you have 6 weeks to earn as many XP points as you can.
  • There are 5 levels, and you have access to level one. Earn XP points to level up and beat the game.
  • Each assignment is worth a certain amount of XP points. To earn the points, you must master the assignment (no mistakes); there is no partial credit. You may try to master an assignment as many times as it takes. Failure simply means try again.
  • There is no 1 way to earn an A; one simply needs to earn enough XP points at the end of the 6 week unit.
  • There are smaller, "grind" assignments that you may complete anytime to earn more points
  • Each level also has certain required assignments that must be completed to make it to the next level.

Protocol:

All students need to create a folder in their Google Drive account, titled "Adventures in Coketown," and all assignments will be turned into "the nest" or Google Drive (unless directed otherwise).

The overall project will be worth 40% of the 4th nine weeks grade. It's very important to do well on this project.

Mr. Colley & Ms. Anders are the Gamemasters, and all questions may be directed to their email accounts at jcolley@theoakridgeschool.org & aanders@theoakridgeschool.org.

When you "level up," you will receive an email notice from Mr. Colley with the URL address to the next challenge, so get ready to have some fun!

Point Scale:

Premise:

There was a buzz in the air among French intellectuals in the mid 1800s. Every academy and every campus were raving about a new, emerging field of inquiry. In Paris, the leading scholars and social commentators were calling the new method sociologie, and its practitioners and recent converts sought nothing less than the complete unification of all social phenomena into a single scientific model.

And you were right there, in the middle of it, championing the new discipline of human science. It was a new way of looking at society - an ambitious attempt to understand the social realm of human existence from a strictly scientific point of view. Feverishly, you and your colleagues were seeking answers to what was thought to be the one important question of the era: What if all human behavior could be understood by simply referencing a limited set of scientific laws? Perhaps society is the sum of its mechanized parts, much like nature, and the application of reason and careful observation could grant us access to the essential laws of all human behaviour. To think of it: The mysteries of the psychological made logical! Such a notion galvanized your desire to solve the puzzle of the human person. In England, writers first referred to the new practice as "social physics," but it was the French universities where the ideas were being born, just as you were in the year 1822, on a warm summer day on the 8th of July.

It was 1842, however, when you graduated from the École Polytechnique of Palaiseau, France, just south of Paris - the same year your professor and mentor, Auguste Comte, was dismissed from the faculty due to a dispute with the administration. Professeur Comte had always been a difficult person to get along with; everyone knew that, but what perplexed you more than anything was the combination of his miserable demeanor with his superior wealth of knowledge about human nature. After all he was the first sociologue! You often wondered: How could someone know so much about human behavior but lack the ability to change his own demeanor as an unhappy person? Despite Comte's termination and the controversy of his ideas, your professeur influenced your outlook profoundly, especially when it came to the notion of Positivism: the idea that all knowledge is based on sensory experience, as long as it is interpreted through the perspective of reason and logic. You, along with your mentor, wanted to peer into the layers of society through the lens of reason, facts, and statistics in order to learn something about the scientific nature of humanity itself. You wanted to honor your mentor's legacy by furthering the positivist project, and you saw the perfect opportunity to do so - namely, by discovering once and for all the laws of human happiness: What are the sociologique conditions that make happiness possible? What is the Algebraic equation to one of humanity's greatest mysteries?

It was during that especially hot summer of 1842 when you decided to act on Comte's inspiration. The key to your research was collecting a variety of data from several situations where humans were undergoing large amounts of rapid, unexpected change. More importantly, you wanted to examine large groups of people where happiness seemed most absent or lacking. With such data, perhaps you could determine a pattern that could begin to supply an answer that no other scientist had yet been able to provide. Who knows? You could even be inducted into the Académie des Sciences!! Wouldn't Professeur Comte be proud!

Your first hunch was to travel north after hearing about the social unrest taking place in the textile industry around regions like Alsace-Lorrain, but after many years, your sociologique data remained incomplete and partial at best (at least when compared to similar work being done by German and British scholars, such as Friedrich Engels or the late Thomas Malthus.) If only you could visit more regions to study more cases of urban and industrial growth, then perhaps your work could match that of researchers across the English Channel! There was another reason the UK was beckoning you: a new school of thought (similar in conviction to Positivism) was emerging in London, led by the likes of the late Jeremy Bentham and his foremost successor John Stuart Mill. They called it Utilitarianism, and its adherents claimed nothing less than to offer a rational theory for human happiness that did not rely on the mystical notions of its predecessor, Romanticism. Instead, utilitarians were refreshingly modern and scientific. In a nutshell, they argued that all things have value based upon their utility (or usefulness), and the usefulness of an action can be determined through a rational evaluation of the data at hand. By way of this framework one could establish a universal model for achieving the most amount of human happiness in a given society. Developments like these made it more and more apparent: eventually you would have to travel to the British Isle to see it for yourself...

*******

The year is now 1854, and for more than a decade you have been studying the Industrial Revolution in northern France with no new leads on the science of human happiness. Consequently, you have not been recognized by the esteemed Académie des Sciences. Not yet, at least, and in recent years, you lost touch with your mentor, Auguste Comte, as he's become increasingly isolated. The truth of the matter is you don't know where he is, but you've heard the rumors. Despite his curmudgeon ways, Comte wouldn't become a recluse like this; spreading the word about his work was too important for him. So where could the professeur be? Could the rumors be true? Was there really a secret war between the "Friends of Fancy" and the "Philosophes of Fact" raging across Europe behind the scenes of everyday life? Were Comte's ideas too controversial? Did the "Friends of Fancy" have something to do with the factual philosopher's disappearance? Was he even still alive?!? Some were saying he wasn't: the mystery of his whereabouts troubled you, to say the least.

And then it happened. The call you had been waiting for (but didn't know it). March 3rd, 1854, on a Friday, you received the cryptic note in the mail at your residence in Nancy, France:

Strange...

Why was the word "friend" put in quotes? And why did the writer refer to you as a "Philosophe"? Did this have something to do with your missing mentor, Professeur Comte? Was this about the so-called secret war? Were you unknowingly a part of it? The questions far exceeded any answers you might offer, but the idea wouldn't go away: this might just be your one opportunity to complete your research, and in the meantime, help a friend in need. There were other reasons that made your journey timely and therefore imperative: the word was out that the preeminent scientific socialist, Friedrich Engels, had returned to Manchester, the main industrial hub that sits just south of Coketown. Also, John Stuart Mill had finally returned from his trip with the East India Company, an assignment that was cut short due to his wife's rapid decline in health. Was it possible to have an audience with these esteemed scholars while journeying through England!? One thing was certain: you were going to study their work in greater detail, no matter what.

There was another figure whose ideas were creating a stir as well; in fact, you recently finished his debut publication, titled Social Statics, or The Conditions Essential to Human Happiness Specified (1851). The Anglo philosopher's name was Herbert Spencer, and no one really knew what to call his approach to social science (we would later refer to his ideas as "Social Darwinism," but that's getting ahead of ourselves, anachronistically speaking). Needless to say, you were eager to learn about Spencer's ideas, especially as it related to human happiness.

Now that you've resolved to make the journey, you decide to book a ticket for next week, either to board the HMS Beagle in Calais, France, or to board the HMS Corgi in Dunkerque, France; both routes are scheduled to arrive in Dover, England the morning of March 9th. You will need to choose your destination soon, but In the meantime, it wouldn't be a bad idea to brush up on your research before moving on to Level One of your journey. In fact, both the HMS Beagle and the HMS Corgi require that all passengers have 15XP Points before boarding the ship for England.

Select one of the following groups of topics to earn your badge of competency in either Positivism, Utilitarianism, Industrialism, or Social Darwinism (each badge is worth 10XP):

Once you've selected your option, read about the three suggested topics, and for each of them do one of the following: (1) for each topic, write a paragraph that summarizes the subject matter in question, (2) for each topic, create a visual graphic or "ad" that explains its meaning or significance, or (3) make a short video that explores each topic adequately. Once you've turned it into the Nest to earn your 10 XP, you may depart for your first stop: Roubaix, France - sometimes called "the Manchester of northern France." Visit Roubaix to learn a little more about the Industrial Revolution before deciding which route to England to embark upon. Bon voyage!

Click here to depart to the next destination:

Roubaix, France!