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In the popular mind the name of John Milton (1608– 1674) is associated only with the great epic, Paradise Lost. Scholars and literary men include a wider range of his poetry within their vision, and recognize a large difference between the products of his youthful period and those of his enriched maturity. But between these stages comes a period as a prose writer and pamphleteer, which, while little known even to the student of literature, has made Milton one of the interesting figures in education. The great poet was a stanch Puritan, and, during this middle stage of his career, several vigorous pamphlets of protest fell from his pen. He wrote upon the freedom of the press, the tenure of kings, religious toleration, and against the episcopacy. At this time, also, he undertook as part of his reforms to contribute to educational theory and to the improvement of the schools themselves. He conducted a boarding school throughout his thirties, and the Tractate of Education

Milton was a


and a school

master, as

well as a poet, and wrote a

Tractate of


(1644) is an outgrowth of his practical experience as a schoolmaster.


which prepared the way for sense realism.'

Milton's Opposition to the Formal Humanism

His educational posi

Although he came somewhat, later in the history



and 'social

tion is that of of education, Milton is to be classed among those who were endeavoring to introduce a broader humanism in the place of the narrow 'Ciceronianism' into which the educational product of the Renaissance had hardened. Instead of the restriction to words and set forms, they advocated a study of the ideas, or 'real things,' of which the words were the symbols. This emphasis upon the content of the classics, which has usually been known as 'humanistic' realism, is especially noticeable in Milton. With it often went the study of social and physical phenomena, in order to throw light upon the meaning of the passages under consideration. There seems also to have been an attempt to adapt education to actual living in a real world and to prepare young people for the concrete duties of life, and it was usually suggested that the breadth of view necessary for this could be obtained best through

1 Other innovators were Rabelais, Montaigne, Mulcaster, etc. See Graves, History of Education during the Transition, Chap. XVII. Because of the nature of his educational position, Milton is treated here before Bacon, Ratich, and Comenius, although he follows them in point of time.

travel under the care of a tutor or by residence in a foreign school. This latter tendency, which appears to some extent in Milton's Tractate, may be called 'social' realism. However, while one element or the other may seem to be more prominent in a certain treatise, these two phases of education are largely bound up in each other, and both tendencies are evident in most reformers of the times. They seem to be but two sides of the same thing and to constitute together a natural bridge from the humanism of the later Renaissance to the 'sense realism' of the seventeenth century.

of Education opposes the


The Tractate of Education is an admirable illustration The Tractate of this broader humanism. While a remarkable classicist himself, Milton objects to the usual humanistic edu- formal hucation with its "grammatic flats and shallows where they stuck unreasonably to learn a few words with lamentable construction," and declares that the boys "do for the most part grow into hatred and contempt of learning." He claims that "we do amiss to spend seven or eight years in scraping together so much miserable Latin and Greek as might be learned otherwise easily and delightfully in one year." He especially stigmatizes, as Locke did later, the formal work in Latin composition, "forcing the empty wits of children to compose themes, verses, and orations, which are the acts of ripest judgment and the final work of a head filled by long reading and observing."

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