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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.

by H. E. Wix.
Volume 14, 1903, pgs. 790-794

[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), of some passage in one or other of their school books.—Ed.]


Subject: History.

Groups: History. Class IV. Age: 16. Time: 30 minutes.

By H. E. Wix.

The State of France in 1789.


I. To establish relations with the past.

II. To show how closely literature and history are linked together and how the one influences the other.

III. To try to give G—- and S—- a clearer idea of the social and political state of France before the Revolution than they have now, and to draw from them the causes which brought about the Revolution in France and at this time (1789).


Step I.—Begin by taking the state of France generally. Feudalism was still in existence without its usefulness and with most of its abuses, and it led to the great division of Classes—the Privileged and the Unprivileged. In both Army and Church it was impossible for the unprivileged to rise by merit; all offices were filled by the privileged classes. These were exempt from many taxes. Draw from G—- and S—- the chief taxes—Taille levied on property and the Gabelle which forced everyone to buy a certain amount of salt from the Government at an enormous rate.

Step II.—Take the state of France in the country, showing what was the position of the peasant to his lord. The land he lived on generally belonged to him; in return for which he had to grind his corn at his lord's mill, etc., had to give his work free on certain days in the year, and help to make the roads in his lord's land (corvle). Tell them something of the Game Laws and the "Intendants."

Step III.—Take the state of France in the towns, showing how impossible it was for a poor man to set up in a trade, owing to the guilds and monopolies. Together with men who held some office under Government, the merchants made a separate class, far removed from both the peasants and the nobles.

Step IV.—The state of the Church. For the most part the higher ecclesiastics were hated and despised. This was not the case with the "cures," for they were of the peasantry, and shared their troubles. But the higher ecclesiastics were generally younger sons of nobles, who drew the salaries of their offices and lived a gay life at Court. The Church also imposed heavy dues.

Step V.—Show that these evils might have been remedied gradually (as in England) had there been a representative assembly regularly called, or any true justice. But, as justice could be bought and sold, the poor man always lost his cause, and the pleadings of the peasants could in no way make themselves heard. They had risen just before this time, but unsuccessfully.

Step VI.—Draw from G—- and S—- the reason why the Revolution broke out in France rather than in any other Continental country. Because, though the evils in France were no worse than those borne by the German peasants, the French people had been awakened to the knowledge of their evils and of their right to liberty by many great writers. Such were Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, d'Alembert and Montesqieu. Draw from G—- and S—- all I can about these men and their influence on history.

Step VII.—Draw from G—- and S—- why the Revolution broke out just in 1789. Rousseau had written his works since about 1730, and Voltaire since 1718.

The French had borne their evils under Louis XIV.'s strong government. Louis XV. was very different. The evils of a despotic government were clearly shown by him. He it was who said, "Apre nous le deluge!" Then came Louis XVI., conscientious and full of good intentions. Draw from G—- and S—- something of Louis' character. But the great opportunity of the people came in the calling of the States General, in order to get money.

Step VIII.—A short recapitulation of the principal points.


Subject: Nature Note-book Painting.

Group: Art. Class III. Time: 30 minutes.

By B. M. Dismorr.


I. To increase the pupil's power of observation.

II. To give a greater appreciation of beauty.

III. To give practice in the choosing and laying on of colour.

IV. To paint berries.


Step I.—See that the children sit in a good light. Let the children each choose a specimen and hold it in the position in which they would like to paint it. Draw their attention to the beauty of the specimen. Pin each specimen on to a piece of white paper and ask why this is done.

Step II.—Let the children look well at the specimens. Ask them which is the lightest and darkest part; and let them notice the relative heights and distances of the various parts. Ask the names of the colours they will use, and let them mix plenty of each before beginning.

Step III.—Ask the children how they would begin. First, faintly sketch in the direction of the stalk, indicating the position of the berries and leaves. Then paint the berries, laying on the colour at once in the right tone, and leaving the highlight and the shadow to be put on after the first wash is dry. Then let the leaves and lastly the stalk be taken in the same way, altering the tone when necessary, but only putting one wash.

Step IV.—Let the shadows be put in. The shadow will be a darker tone of the same colour as the object. The shadow becomes lighter as it approaches the light side or part of the object, and is not bounded by a hard line.


Group: History. Class II. Age: 8-11. Time: 20-30 minutes.

By C. N. Heath.

The Lake-Dwellers of Switzerland.


I. To maintain and increase the children's interest in Switzerland, which country is included in the school geography for this term.

II. To establish relations with the past.

III. To give the children a living idea of the customs and habits of the prehistoric people of Switzerland.


Step I.—Tell the children we will talk to-day of the pre-historic people of Switzerland. The children then to look at the map and see what they think might happen to the low-lying lakes of that country. Illustrate by examples of local lakes if necessary.

Step II.—Relate the discovery made by the people of Meilen, in 1853, on the shores of Lake Zurich. Show a map, indicating the positions of the discovered dwellings, on the blackboard. Draw from them the conclusion arrived at by means of the objects found, and the name given to these settlers. Make the children observe that these dwellings are only found on the low-lying lake, and draw from them the reason.

Step III.—Describe the position of the dwellings and get from the children the materials used besides the piles in building the houses. Show picture of a reconstructed dwelling. Mention various objects found, and read the following account of a "lake lady's" dress:—A 'lady of the lake' in full dress would seem to have made an imposing show. An undergarment of fine linen was girded at the waist by a broad of inlaid or embossed bronze-work. Over the shoulders was thrown a woollen cloak, fastened with bronze clasps, or pins, whilst neck, arms, and ankles were decked with a great store of trinkets. The whole was set off by a diadem of long pins with large heads, beautifully chiselled, and inlaid with beads of metal or glass, these pins being stuck through a sort of leathern fillet, which bound up the hair."

Step IV.—Describe the colonies on Lake Pfaffikon with a diagram on the board to show the three successive settlements, the two lower ones being well preserved by fire. Also diagrams of pots imbedded in the mud.

Step V.—Mention the plants, grains, seeds fruits, and materials discovered in the settlements, and draw from the children why the presence of nephrite hatchets proves that the lake-dwellers had tradings with the East. Tell how the "pile-builders" were not only fishers, but hunted, tilled the ground and kept horses and cattle.

Step VI.—Give the possible dates of the three ages of lake-dwellers; building themselves tombs on land, the first sign of their becoming land-dwellers. The evidences of their existing till the beginning of the early historic period. Get from the children the means of arriving at that conclusion.

Step VII.—Get the children to recapitulate the lesson.

Proofread by Leslie Noelani Laurio, September 2008