Tuesday, July 7, 2015

From the Parents' Review: How to Prepare and Present a Lesson

A hidden gem on the Parents' Review page: the article "A Rational Lesson"  by S. De Brath, from Volume 8, 1897, pgs. 119-125.

Here's a sample:
The stages by which the former kind of idea [general truths able to be described in language] is reached are very easy to follow. 
First comes the direction of attention to the matter in hand; then that careful note of successive sense impressions which is called Observation; then the separation by the mind of what is distinct in these different percepts from what is common to them all; and lastly, the expression of this in correct language.
These four stages have been called Attention, Observation, Generalization, and Formulation.... The lesson should move this process as a key moves a lock. Sound teaching, which habituates the mind to move logically, must be adapted to it, and the corresponding stages of each lesson are: Preparation, recalling the old, and directing the attention towards the new; Presentation of the new matter, to all the senses as far as possible; Association of the particulars and that which is essential in each; and Formulation, the expressing of the result attained in good plain English.
The really valuable part of this article is that, using several different school subjects, S. De Brath takes us through each of the four stages in detail. How does all this apply to a geography lesson, a literature lesson? If you want Charlotte Mason nuts and bolts, this is it.


  1. Such a great article! Thanks for sharing. Really a great challenge to us as CM educators.

  2. Interesting word in this PR: Chevy-case ( and not the actor/ comedian) It is a ballad: (The Ballad of Chevy Chase) a 15th-century English ballad describing the battle of Otterburn between the Percys and the Douglases.

    6) LITERATURE--Child aged twelve. Chevy-chase. Forty-five minutes. Preparation by recall of former connected lessons. Recall geography lessons on the Border, and castles and arms of the XIV. Century. Fifteen minutes.

  3. I found it interesting that De Brath gives full credit (at the end) to Herbartian influences, and I think that if you take this too far, get too hung up on getting all four parts of the lesson in there, that you could get a little too "Herbartian" with it. But on the other hand, it was published in the Parents' Review, so I would take it that it was acceptable, overall, to the PR editors

  4. Just lost my comment. Grr. I was saying that at first I found very interesting the statement that "The end of instruction is not the imparting of knowledge! " since CM spends so much time talking about Knowledge of Man, of God, etc. But then I started reading this one called Lessons Before School, (https://www.amblesideonline.org/PR/PR07p105Lessonsbeforeschool.shtml) R. Somervalle says "whatever knowledge of permanent usefulness may be acquired during the early years of education, the main object of lessons before school is the development of certain habits of mind, and a certain intellectual capacity. To put it more definitely, I would say that we have to train a child's memory, understanding, observation, and imagination."

    I haven't gotten very far in the article, but it looks promising and challenging for mother homeschooling children up to 10.

    Which really goes along with Classical education as suggested by Stratford Caldecott, Andrew Kern, and Christopher Perrin.

    Okay, back to making Sunday Dinner.