The place was Pentrepoeth Girls’ School in south Wales.
The date was Monday, March the twentieth, 1939.
The class was Standard VI or Standard VII, or probably the two standards combined.
Anyway, they were girls aged twelve and thirteen.
They were still pupils or schoolgirls, of course, not “students”. They were not attending college or university, and the Department of Education
had not been Americanised.
Standing in front of the class was a teacher-in-training from Trinity College, Carmarthen. I suppose the regular teacher of the standard remained in
the room, to prevent them bullying him too much.
The young man was twenty years old, born and bred in Lincolnshire, and I think I can guarantee that he did not know a word of Welsh.
He was in the middle of what looks like a fortnight of “teaching practice” at one of the local schools.
I have acquired the notebook in which he prepared his lesson notes (or possibly the last in a series covering a longer period).
OK, I have inherited
the notebook, which is why I’m not going to tell you his name.
The weekly timetable of the class is drawn up at the back of the notebook.
Some of the lesson periods have cross-hatchings, which indicate that he was NOT involved in the teaching of P.T., Needlework, Music, or Welsh. There
is no great mystery about those omissions, especially if Music involved singing in Welsh. Perhaps, in any case, those four subjects and Drawing were
being taken by specialist teachers.
But he took part in, and prepared notes for, lessons in English, Poetry, Arithmetic, Mental Arithmetic, History, Geography, Nature, and Hygiene.
In case you’re wondering, “Hygiene” means learning about breathing and why we need to keep our rooms well ventilated. Nothing inappropriate.
He was given an easy start, that Monday, with no lessons to prepare until the middle of the afternoon. He must have been “observing” the morning
From 2.50 p.m., he was teaching half an hour of Geography.
The aim of the lesson was “To explain how the earth is worn away”
He was hoping to do this by making use of the girls’ local knowledge.
What do they see when the River Towey is in flood? Where does all the mud come from? What do they think that is doing to the hills? And what about the
Towey opposite the Priory end of town, flowing through the fields. Can anyone suggest how those fields were formed? They may get a clue from those
medicine bottles which say “Shake well before taking”. [There is an asterisk here, with no footnote attached to it. I would like to think he was
reminding himself to bring in a medicine bottle and shake it at this point, so that they could see what he meant.] They can see how the heavy
particles sink to the bottom. That’s what happens to the mud. And how many of them have been to Ferryside? What do they see in the river there? Can
they suggest how those mudbanks have been formed?
Summing up with “a brief recapitulation by means of questions”.
The timetable gives him a brief ten minute respite through what my primary school would have called “afternoon playtime”.
Then, from 3.30 p.m., he had a full hour of teaching English. He intended to manage it like this;
1 hr (2 periods of 30 mins)
(i) To show the difference between & use of lie, lies, lay, lays, lain, laid
(ii) To give practice in the use of the above words
PART 1 ORAL WORK
(i) Teacher will lay down a book upon the desk. Ask children “What am I doing?” Write down word- laying
. Girl to come out and repeat
operation. She is to tell class what she is doing- “I lay
down the book.” Write down the word lay
. Ask other girls to describe her
action- “She lays down etc.” Suppose action took place a day ago. How would you describe it? Word laid
will then be noted on board. Tell
children to notice that in every case something is done to something else.
(ii) Ask for sentences containing the transitive verb “lay”.
(iii) The intransitive verb will be dealt with as follows. Draw simple diagram of someone lying in bed. What is she doing? Suppose two of them. In
this way, “lie, lies, lying & lain” will be discovered. Notice in this case nothing is done to anything else. Intransitive verb.
(iv) Ask for sentences containing the word “lie” in its various forms.
[That is, words which will be written up on the blackboard]
1) LIE (Intransitive) I lie. She lies, etc
2) LAY (Transitive) I lay down the book
PART 2 Written Work
Fill in the following spaces;-
1) He – down his newspaper & picked up a book.
2) I had just – down to rest when some old friends called.
3) All that summer afternoon he – on his back staring up at the sky.
4) Standing on the main road we see that the church – to the north of it.
5) This hen – more eggs than any of the others.
6) I like to – on the grass.
The sentences will then be corrected.
[This lesson sounds a little juvenile for the age-group, though it may be that education was slower in those days.
Our class had been taught that stuff by the time I was 10. Together with the extra complication of the forms of “I lie/do not tell the truth”,
which he doesn’t mention here.
I seem to remember a textbook page with all three verbs in tabular form.
I wonder if he had given himself enough material to fill the hour, or whether he found himself trying to spin out the written work stage. When I was
preparing for Bible Study groups, I used to cover myself by preparing “optional” material, which could be used or not used, depending on how
quickly the time was going.]
edit on 29-9-2018 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)