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ENGL 145 - education paper final draft

ENGL 145 - education paper final draft - Carlson 1 Mallory...

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Carlson 1 Mallory Carlson Professor Dreher ENGL 145 4 December 2007 John Milton and Jean-Paul Sartre: On Education and Virtue Based on my own understanding of what constitutes an education, it is easily defined, in its simplest terms, as the process of acquiring knowledge. Naturally, such a process takes on many forms, resulting in many different kinds of education and learned knowledge. Unsatisfied with the means by which one became educated in 17 th century England, John Milton took it upon himself to theorize a reformative approach to education. Roughly 300 years later, the French writer and social philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, would propose his Existentialist philosophy. This philosophy was not specifically meant to address educational reform, but by dissecting certain aspects of Sartre’s philosophy, it becomes clear that Existentialism proposes its own unique approach to education. Although Milton and Sartre greatly differ on many specific issues (chiefly religion), their overarching ideas concerning education are strikingly similar, insofar as both theorists emphasize education’s ability to instill the individual with not only knowledge, but with virtue. In the beginning of Of Education , Milton criticizes the “many mistakes” of the current English educational system which has “made learning generally so unpleasing and so unsuccessful” (Milton 631). His criticism stems from his own experiences as a student; he felt that too much time was dedicated towards learning “so much miserable Latin and Greek” and in “forcing the empty wits of children to compose themes, verses and orations,” which “are not matters to be wrung from poor striplings” (631). The
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Carlson 2 consequent “misspending [of] our prime youth,” caused many students to experience a certain “hatred and contempt for learning…while they expected worthy and delightful knowledge” (632). Instead, Milton proposed that after some instruction in grammar,
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ENGL 145 - education paper final draft - Carlson 1 Mallory...

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