In his 1644 short treatise Of Education, Milton argues that education is necessary in order to achieve two main goals.
The first one is to prepare the children to become responsible, knowledgeable, ethical, and emphatic adults, who will be able to think for themselves and contribute to the community, both in the public and private spheres. He insists on a
complete and generous education that which fits a man to perform justly, skillfully, and magnanimously all the offices, both public and private, of peace and war.
The second goal is to gain an understanding of the world, both objectively and through the lens of Christianity and the Christian reform.
The end then of learning is to repair the ruins 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, as 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.
Milton proposes a curriculum that goes against the medieval ways of teaching. He says that first the students should learn "the chief and necessary rules of some good grammar" but only "the usefullest points of grammar," so that they can master pronunciation and self-expression.
Furthermore, the best way to teach the Latin and Greek languages is to read to the students "from some easy and delightful book of education," which won't bore them and will instead make learning seem fun. Milton then proposes that art and poetry should be taught as extensively and as meticulously as logic, rhetoric, economics, physics, geometry, politics, and ethics. He also proposes the learning of theology and church studies or church history, as well as agriculture, as he believed that the students should also learn the merits of hard work and "true labor."
Milton stands for true organic education rather than over-schooling. He claims that, aside from knowledge, teachers should also provide guidance to the students:
To teach them such lectures and explanations, upon every opportunity, as may lead and draw them in willing obedience, inflamed with the study of learning and the admiration of virtue; stirred up with high hopes of living to be brave men, and worthy patriots, dear to God, and famous to all ages. ... Gained them an incredible diligence and courage, infusing into the young breasts such an ingenious and noble ardor, as would not fail to make many of them renowned and matchless men.