John Stuart Mill’s Education Essays

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John Stuart Mill’s Education

John Stuart Mill’s education was intense at all times, but at different stages in his life he learned different things and in different ways. Though his education was unique by all accounts, it embodied many virtues that modern educational systems strive to include. These include: close parent involvement and one-on-one work between students and teachers; exposure to intellectual role models; emphasis on independent thought, logic, and pursuing curiosities; being held to high standards for achievement; being free from invidious comparisons to peers; and learning the value of seeking out peers for intellectual support and stimulation. He also learned, during personal struggles to understand his relationship with his father and to rediscover passion for life after his mental crisis, that the responsibility for his education and his happiness ultimately lay with himself. Most stunning in his account is what he learns about his father during his process of evaluating the way his father educated him, judging his father’s ideas and abilities, and navigating his relationship with his father over time.

During his early childhood Mill’s father tutored him in classical languages and history through structured lessons overseen by his father. His father’s patience encouraged him to ask questions and made him understand that his education was a priority. In retrospect he described his early education as an example of how much can be accomplished in a period of life that is generally wasted. Though he was reading Greek by age three, he attributes his achievements not to his own genius but to his learning environment. While the modern reader is inclined to disbelieve this modest assertion, his unique up...

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...his education at different stages of his life, but I think I presented it here much as I read it – which is to say, I’m more inclined to praise Mill’s education than my professor and classmates are. I hope I’ve done a good job of explaining why I think his early education prepared him for everything, even his mental crisis, because I consider that personal struggle a vital part of his education. Learning about oneself and having to provide one’s own meaning for life is an important part of education, and the foundation of logical thought, facing and meeting challenges, and persevering with tough tasks, helped Mill through his mental crisis. I still really like Mill, and though I’m obviously no where near the extreme of his life, I identify to some extent with the way he thinks, the way he was raised, and the personal struggles he’s had to work through on his own.

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