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Milton's Tractate on Education

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This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most impor This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work. This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work. As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.


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This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most impor This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work. This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work. As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.

30 review for Milton's Tractate on Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    Someday I want to start a Miltonian school, preferably sometime before I have kids to educate.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    Interesting but a little overwhelming. His method of learning languages seems to assume a lot but maybe it would work. Who knows?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Tabor

    Well, Milton certainly is thorough. His prescription for education is rather stifling and was a little stressful to read about; however, I love the idea of students getting exercise through fencing. The most impactful line from the tractate is as follows: "The end then of Learning is to repair the ruines of our first Parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him..." Bravo, Milton, I heartily agree with you. As for the rest, I believe Well, Milton certainly is thorough. His prescription for education is rather stifling and was a little stressful to read about; however, I love the idea of students getting exercise through fencing. The most impactful line from the tractate is as follows: "The end then of Learning is to repair the ruines of our first Parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him..." Bravo, Milton, I heartily agree with you. As for the rest, I believe children must be allowed some free time for the development of their imaginations and of their interests. Your ideas allow for nothing but unceasing education. Nonetheless, you bring to a light an excellent point: that all things should be learned and done as unto the glory of God, and that is the greatest value I find in your "brief" (ha!) pamphlet. Note: I did not read this particular education. What I read was his eight page pamphlet, "Of Education."

  4. 4 out of 5

    M.G. Bianco

    I recently read John Milton's tract "Of Education." Very interesting, and he helps to clarify some things for me by showing a necessary order in the education process. Just as with plants, they must receive water and nutrients at certain times and a certain order, so too must our children receive education orderly for it to be most effectual. I also greatly appreciated his emphasis on education for both the body and mind. If there was one thing lacking, at least for my own needs, it was that he d I recently read John Milton's tract "Of Education." Very interesting, and he helps to clarify some things for me by showing a necessary order in the education process. Just as with plants, they must receive water and nutrients at certain times and a certain order, so too must our children receive education orderly for it to be most effectual. I also greatly appreciated his emphasis on education for both the body and mind. If there was one thing lacking, at least for my own needs, it was that he didn't always state clearly how to teach. For example, he mentions that a student can become fluent in Latin in one year's time, but he doesn't say how. For my sake, I wish I knew that. I must admit, however, that the tract is actually a letter on education to a friend who clearly knew what Milton meant by his statements. I just happen to not be in the know on that point. Sad for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    "I am long since persuaded, that to say, or do aught worth memory and imitation, no purpose or respect should sooner move us, than simply the love of God, and of mankind." A good start, but nothing followed it up. In my opinion this work doesn't add much value.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mike Kieser

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nick

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mark Kind

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael Lloyd-Billington

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diego

  11. 5 out of 5

    Salo

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael Lloyd-Billington

  13. 4 out of 5

    Blake

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kate

  16. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Winfield

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Amar

    When I was about eighteen, I had a peculiar attachment to Thomas Jefferson. More intense than an interest, even the kind of deep interest I’ve since developed in other writers: I was attached to his voice, and often spoke to it, listening for its answer in the cavern of brain which had swallowed it. I think what so fascinated me about him was his penchant for paternalistic advice. At eighteen a kind uncle, with very definite ideas what constitutes an education, is invaluable: you define yoursel When I was about eighteen, I had a peculiar attachment to Thomas Jefferson. More intense than an interest, even the kind of deep interest I’ve since developed in other writers: I was attached to his voice, and often spoke to it, listening for its answer in the cavern of brain which had swallowed it. I think what so fascinated me about him was his penchant for paternalistic advice. At eighteen a kind uncle, with very definite ideas what constitutes an education, is invaluable: you define yourself in accord with them, for a while, and eventually you forget or rebel. Five years later, the only thing I would ask Thomas Jefferson, should I speak to him, would be a tricky question about Sally Hemings (since reading the memoir of Harriet Jacobs, especially, the thought of Jefferson’s misdeeds becomes more and more intolerable). But at the time I would have taken very seriously any advice he might give about reading. In 1787 he wrote a letter to Peter Carr, the nephew who for over a hundred years would be blamed with the parentage of Jefferson’s six mixed-race children, recommending to him a curriculum of study. A long but not impracticable list of books in four languages: history, philosophy, literature. Jefferson was already a statesman and writer, not yet a president, and presumed upon his position to express his dream of liberal education. At this epoch of my life, I spend much more time reading the sorts of thing Jefferson recommends, and am much more skeptical of his pedagogical framework. Perhaps I only spend more time reading Thucydides because I spend more time reading. I have a better sense now of the shape of Jefferson’s thought, its precedents, its weird blend of American- and Englishness. In Jefferson the construction of a canonical mind is paramount: it is well to internalize the classics, though the chief benefits of the activity may be in developing discipline and the capacity for moral thinking. So far, so English: these may not be precisely the ideas Milton expresses in the Tractate, a hundred and fifty years earlier, but Milton was certainly conversant with them. What is particular to an American, and especially to the author of our Declaration of Independence, is the respect paid to the revolutionary thinking on the fringes of the canon: “you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us to be Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists, because these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration as much as the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own reason, and not by the reason of those ecclesiastics.” My point being that the canon, even as a very white, very male pedagogical instrument, was not ideologically stable. Three thousand miles and a hundred and fifty years could make a great difference in its complexion. In studying works on education, we study an ideology, a metaphysics of authority. You’re reading a dream: how would I raise a (white) boy; how would I make him better than myself; how actuate his nature by my nurture, if there were no limits to my involvement? The fundamental question is: what do I think reading is for? Milton’s answer: “The mark of the system here expounded is that language is to be merely a means, not an end; that things and not words constitute the elements of education.” That is to say that pretension, poise, the epigrammatic flourish, are only byproducts of education; it doesn’t mean that education’s objects are dull and practical: “The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.” In Milton, there is always a sense of something lost, something to be regained. Paradise in the epics; in the prose writings, “Truth.” As we learned in the Areopagitica, “Truth indeed came once into the world with her divine master, and was a perfect shape most glorious to look on: but when he ascended, and his apostles after him were laid asleep, then straight arose a wicked race of deceivers, who as that story goes of the Egyptian Typhon with his conspirators, how they dealt with the good Osiris, took the virgin Truth, hewed her lovely form into a thousand pieces, and scattered them to the four winds. From that time ever since, the sad friends of Truth, such as dare appear, imitating the careful search that Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris, went up and down gathering up limb by limb still as they could find them. We have not yet found them all, Lords and Commons, nor ever shall do, till her Master’s second coming; he shall bring together every joint and member, and shall mold them into an immortal feature of loveliness and perfection.” The “Truth” appears to have two forms, a temporal and a spiritual. Spiritually, of course, we “regain to know God aright,” we take Him down from His hill and place Him in our breasts. Temporally, we resuscitate an ideology of civic duty not current since the pre-Christian era (Nietzsche would of course say that Christianity’s weakness had caused its collapse: “Christianity was from the beginning, essentially and fundamentally, life’s nausea and disgust with life, merely concealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in “another” or “better” life”). For Milton, contemporary educational practice unfits people for civic duty: it has been too much allowed to “the monsieurs of Paris, to take our hopeful youth into their slight and prodigal custodies and send them over back again transformed into mimics, apes, and kickshaws.” Rather than associate education with the perennially effete Frenchmen, Milton would have a heroic education, a Chironic education perhaps: the kind of education to make the scholarly equivalent of Achilles. And indeed, he throws together reading lists like Hera devising the tasks of Hercules: “And either now, or before this, they may have easily learned at any odd hour the Italian tongue.” Later, he admits the difficulty of the curriculum, then equivocates: “Only I believe that this is not a bow for every man to shoot in that counts himself a teacher; but will require sinews almost equal to those which Homer gave Ulysses, yet I am withal persuaded that it may prove much more easy in the assay, than it now seems at distance, and much more illustrious.” Illustrious, because the spirit of heroic civic duty with which these Greco-Latin reading lists are meant to infuse the student, will be worth more to the English than it ever was to them: Milton hopes to “bring into fashion again those old admired virtues and excellencies, with far more advantage now in this purity of Christian knowledge.” So that education is fundamental to the search for “Truth,” part of a cosmic narrative that involves two notions: the Christian truth by revelation, the truth hoarded in the Catholic coffers for fifteen hundred years; and the liberal truth, the truth that operates as a function of a free press, which is pieced together from fragments scattered across the globe. Milton is a Baconian; no non-scriptural author is mentioned so often. So induction will play a part in Milton’s philosophical syllabus. From many and various sources, the goal is to develop a progressive system of knowledge, which will advance our progress towards the rapturous immolation of completed self-knowledge, as well as infusing our contemporary life with an aspect of the sublime heroic.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michael Lloyd-Billington

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tomburnside90gmail.com

  22. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  23. 4 out of 5

    Pam

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paul Vittay

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

  26. 5 out of 5

    Drew Walsh

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joe Spinks

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  29. 4 out of 5

    Peter J.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay Oliver

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