Thomas Gradgrind mentally introduces himself to the schoolchildren, excited to "storm away" their imaginations and replace them with "a grim mechanical substitute."
Gradgrind interrogates Sissy Jupe about her name, what her father does for a living, and the definition of a horse. Sissy is unable to answer these questions sufficiently factually. She's shown up by teacher's pet Bitzer, who has this thing down: "Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth."
Josiah Bounderby tells the class that because real horses don't walk on walls and people don't step on flowers, wallpaper and carpets shouldn't have those things on them either.
Gradgrind and Bounderby's lesson turns out to have been a sort of coaching session for the actual teacher, Mr. M'Choakumchild, who now takes over the class.