The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Notes of Lessons.

Volume 14, 1903, pgs. 382-388

[We have thought that it might be of use to our readers (in their own families) to publish from month to month during the current year, Notes of Lessons prepared by students of the House of Education for the pupils of the Practising School. We should like to say, however, that such a Lesson is never given as a tour de force, but is always an illustration or an expansion of some part of the children's regular studies (in the Parents' Review School), some passage in one or other of their school books.—ED.]

I. Subject: Grammar.

Group: English. Class IV. Average Age: 16. Time: 40 mins.

By Hilda M. Fountain.


I. To connect grammar with literature.

II. To connect the present with the past by tracing the history of certain words.

III. To make the pupils see that an author's language, and consequently his style, are influenced by his subject.

IV. To interest the pupils in finding out the meaning of words from their derivation, making use of their knowledge of Latin as far as possible.

V. To teach the Latin prefixes commonly found in English words.

VI. To cultivate the mental habit of accuracy.


Step I.—Let the pupils each read part of a passage from Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and tell them to notice the language.

"When the troops of Maximin, advancing in excellent order, arrived at the foot of the Julian Alps, they were terrified by the silence and desolation that reigned on the frontiers of Italy. The villages and open towns had been abandoned on their approach by the inhabitants, the cattle was driven away, the provisions removed or destroyed, the bridges broken down, nor was anything left which could afford either shelter or subsistence to an invader. Such had been the wise orders of the generals of the senate, whose design was to protract the war, to ruin the army of Maximin by the slow operation of famine, and to consume his strength in the sieges of the principal cities of Italy, which they had plentifully stored with men and provisions from the deserted country. Aquileia received and withstood the first shock of the invasion. The streams that issue from the head of the Hadriatic Gulf, swelled by the melting of the winter snows, opposed an unexpected obstacle to the arms of Maximin.

"At length on a singular bridge, constructed with art and difficulty of large hogsheads, he transported his army to the opposite bank, rooted up the beautiful vineyards in the neighbourhood of Aquileia, demolished the suburbs, and employed the timber of the buildings in the engines and towers with which on every side he attacked the city. The walls, fallen to decay during the security of a long peace, had been hastily repaired on this sudden emergency; but the firmest defence of Aquileia consisted in the constancy of the citizens; all ranks of whom, instead of being dismayed, were animated by the extreme danger and their knowledge of the tyrants' unrelenting temper. Their courage was supported and directed by Crispinus and Menophilus, two of the twenty lieutenants of the senate, who, with a small body of regular troops, had thrown themselves into the besieged place. The army of Maximin was repulsed on repeated attacks, his machines destroyed by showers of artificial fire, and the generous enthusiasm of the Aquileians was exalted into a confidence of success by the opinion that Belenus, their tutelar deity, combated in person in the defence of his distressed worshippers."

Step II.—Let the pupils read Tennyson's In Memoriam, Canto VII., with the same object.

"Dark house by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand.

"A hand that can be clasped no more—
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.

"He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day."

Step III.—Draw from the pupils a comparison of the language of the two extracts. That of the first is full of words of Latin derivation, and this is due principally to the subject and the fact that the author must have read a great deal of Latin, and so his language has become impregnated with it. In the case of the extract from In Memoriam the words are almost all English in origin, and this is because the subject is an expression of the poet's grief and loneliness, and he gives vent to his feelings in simple language and every-day words.

Step IV.—Ask the pupils if there are any Latin words in the passage from In Memoriam, and draw attention to the word street; the only one, and that one of the oldest, having been in the language since the time of the Roman occupation.

Step V.—Ask the pupils to pick out all the words with prefixes and say of what origin they are. "Unlovely" and "begin." Un and be are both English.

Step VI.—Ask the pupils to pick out all the words with prefixes from the extract from Gibbon and write them on the black board at their dictation, thus:
   ad—advancing, arrived, afford.
   de—desolation, destroyed, design, deserted.
   in—inhabitants, invader.
   pro—provisions, protract.
   re—removed, received.
   con—consume, constructed.
   ob—opposed, obstacle.

and so on, the list depending on the words chosen by the pupils.

Step VII.—Ask them to tell which are the English prefixes. There are only two, with and un. Tell them that the others are all Latin.

Step VIII.—To arrive at the meaning of the prefixes and their force in the words in which they occur, take words such as "inhabitant," "provide" and "remove," whose roots the pupils ought to know, and draw the meaning of the prefix from a comparison of the words "moves" and "removes," "vides" and "provides." When necessary, tell the pupils the root and its meaning, so that they may discern for themselves the force of the prefix.

Step IX.—Rub the words off the board, leaving only the prefix and where necessary, as in the case of re, de, con, etc., let the pupils come to the board and write down the force of the prefix beside it.

Step X.—Ask the pupils for other examples of words containing the prefixes they have learnt, helping them by giving new roots when necessary.

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II. Subject: Algebra.

Group: Mathematics. Class III. Average age, 12. Time: 30 minutes.

By H. M. A. Bell.


I. To introduce a new branch of mathematics, touching on the two first simple rules.

II. To increase the power of attention and reasoning.
III. To encourage accuracy.
IV. To stimulate interest in a new subject.


Step I.—Tell the children about the introduction of algebra: Arabs derived it from the Hindus, and it was from Arabs that Europeans first obtained their acquaintance with it. The first books on algebra were written in the fourth century. Algebra derived its name through the Italian and Spanish from the Arabic Al-jebr=the resetting of anything broken, hence combination, i.e., the combination of numbers and quantities. Algebra, the science or knowledge of numbers, of later growth than arithmetic, was at first merely a kind of universal arithmetic, symbols taking the place of numbers. It is now a distinct branch of mathematics.

Step II.—Ask the children for the different signs used in arithmetic and for their respective values, as:—

Equals, = stands for "is equal to" or "are equal to"; example, 3 + 2 = 5.

Plus, + put before a number means that what that symbol represents has to be added; as, 4 + 5 = 9. (Ask for examples of symbols with + between.

Minus, - put before a number means that what that symbol represents has to be subtracted; as, 5 - 2 = 3. (Ask for examples of symbols with—between.)

When a symbol has neither + nor - written before it, + is always understood.

Step III.—Shew the difference between positive and negative signs, and how they are used, the positive before a positive number or one to be added, the negative before a negative number or one to be subtracted. All numbers are either positive or negative. (Ask for examples of each kind.) Shew from examples how, in considering negative numbers, we overstep the boundary of arithmetic and enter on algebra. Thus in arithmetic you cannot subtract 7 from 4 to give a sensible answer, but in algebra you can have negative answers.

Step IV.—Let the children work the following examples:—

1. A man, starting from a sign-post, walks on for 7 steps (positive) and then goes back 10 steps (negative) to pick up something. how far would he be from the post?

2. A boy gained 16 marks and lost 18. How many did he gain on the whole?

3. A owes B 6 pounds, and B owes A 8 pounds. How much does A owe B on the whole?

4. A cart was driven 15 miles along a road running south, the driver turned the horses round and drove 20 miles back. How far south was it then?

5. A boy had gone already 20 steps towards his school when he found that he had forgotten to buy a book at a shop which was 26 steps in the opposite direction. When he was at the shop how much nearer school was he than when he started?

Step V.—Ask the children if they know how algebra differs from arithmetic, i.e., that in algebra we use letters as well as numbers, and any letter may stand for any number. Thus a may = 1, 2, 3, 24, etc., and any other letter may have the same value. Give the following examples to be worked out:—

1. If a = 3, b = 6, and c = 2, find the value of:—
   (1) a + 4
   (2) b - 3
   (3) c - 5
   (4) a + b - c

2. If x = 6
   (1) What is half x?
   (2) What is 1/3 of x?

3. If x = 12
   (1) What is twice x?
   (2) What is six times x?

4. I have x pounds, you have y pounds, and someone else has z pounds. How many have we altogether?

5. How old are you now? How old will you be in x years?

6. If you are 15 years old now, how old were you v years ago?

7. Add together p, q, x, a, b.

8. Subtract a and b from x.

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III. Subject: New Testament Story—The Stilling of the Tempest.

Group: History. Class II. Average age of children: 10. Time: 30 minutes.

By Lillian Lees.


I. To try to give to the children some new spiritual thought and a practical idea of faith.

II. To bring the story of the Stilling of the Tempest vividly before their minds.

III. To interest them in the geography of the Holy Land.

IV. By means of careful, graphic reading, to help them to feel the wonderful directness, beauty and simplicity of the Bible language: in short, to make them feel the poetry of the Bible.

Apparatus Required.
1. Bibles for the children.
2. A good map of Palestine.
3. Thomson's Land and Book.
4. Pictures of:
     (1) A storm on a lake
     (2) Galilean boats
     (3) The Sea of Galilee.

Step I.—Ask the children to find St. Matt. viii. 23 in their Bibles. Tell the story of the Stilling of the Tempest keeping as closely as possible to the language of the Bible.

(a) Let the children find the Sea of Galilee on the map, and, gathering from the map, some notion of the surrounding country; compare with Lake Windermere.

Show course of journey by reference to verses 5 and 28 in the same chapter.

Show pictures of ships used in the East and the Sea of Galilee.

(b) Describe the tempest graphically, drawing from the children the reason for the sudden storms (caused by the ravines down which the winds rush); get from them their idea of a storm at sea or on a lake.

Show photograph of a storm on Lake Windermere.

(c) Try to make the children understand the twofold nature of our Lord:—
(1) His Humanity—He was evidently weary.
(2) His Divinity—His power over Nature.

(d) Try to make the children feel the exquisite simplicity of the Bible language and the forceful way in which it brings pictures before the mind.

There arose a great tempest—His disciples came to Him—He arose—there was a great calm. Refer to Psalm cvii.[Psalm 107]

(e) "The men marvelled." Try to show the children that faith is just another word for understanding, knowing; how the better we know a person, the more we can trust them. Draw from the children how faith is shown in nearly every verse of this story, but, as far as the disciples were concerned, it did not go far enough.

Draw from them that it is not necessary to be with a person always in order to have faith in them. Ask them how people show faith in all the actions of their daily lives.

Step II.—Read the story from the Bible; read it carefully so that the children will appreciate its literary value and see the vivid pictures which it brings before the mind.

Step III.—Let the children narrate the story, keeping as much as possible to the Bible words.

Proofread by Leslie Noelani Laurio, November 2008