Brave New WorldCredit: ShmoopYou may have experienced a phenomenon known as ‘sleep-teaching’ in some of your classes. In your case, however, this probably involved your forehead drooping and gradually coming to rest against your desk as your teacher droned on and on from the front of the classroom about the importance of doing well on your SAT. In Huxley’s Brave New World, the term means something a little different.

In this dystopia (just think of it as a ‘dysfunctional utopia’ - if you need to look up ‘utopia,’ then this mnemonic probably won’t work for you), human beings are cloned and raised inside carefully controlled environments in which their brains are filled with precisely the kind and amount of information the government wants to be in there. By using this process of sleep-teaching, or ‘hypnopaedia’ (not to be confused with wikihypnopaedia, which will be a handy-dandy reference resource in about 50 years), the leaders of the World State are able to engineer an assembly line of docile and obedient workers who live to serve them and their purpose. Sound familiar? Oh, no it doesn’t. Don’t be so dramatic.

Anyway, in this speculated future society, there is an emphasis on loveless sexual activity and advancement of the sciences, and the elimination of such things as religion, emotion and individuality. Basically, the powers that be are conditioning their population to become a gang of drones who will theoretically drive the world forward as a whole - a world in which any measure of personal enjoyment, pleasure or ambition is disallowed. Like how your dad wouldn’t let you take the car out last weekend. Yeah - now it sounds familiar.

While these faux-events are not something you’re likely to read about in your AP US History classSAT Prep(46865) (please contact us if they are, because your teacher probably needs to be placed under immediate observation), novels about futuristic dystopias are almost always written to serve as a very real warning. Huxley feared that the imaginary world he created would not long remain imaginary, and by writing this novel, he was imploring us to change our ways before it was too late.

Of course, you were not literally grown inside a bottle and brainwashed, no matter what you may tell yourself. But, although you should certainly respect your teachers and make a concerted effort in your classes, it is important for all of us to question the manner of instruction in this country. What is being taught to us and why? Are we merely being molded into just another cog to fit into the machine, or do our educators genuinely wish for us to learn and grow as well-rounded people and active thinkers? For more on this, please see Shmoop’s section on ‘Why You Should Read Everything on this Site and Instantly Accept and Believe All of It without Thinking Critically.’