Monday, December 28, 2015

Narration is Natural...

Principles 14 & 15

As knowledge is not assimilated until it is reproduced, children should 'tell back' after a single reading or hearing: or should write on some part of what they have read.  

A single reading is insisted on, because children have naturally great power of attention; but this force is dissipated by the re-reading of passages, and also, by questioning, summarizing, and the like.  

Acting upon these and some other points in the behaviour of mind, we find that the educability of children is enormously greater than has hitherto been supposed, and is but little dependent on such circumstances as heredity and environment.  

Nor is the accuracy of this statement limited to clever children or to children of the educated classes: thousands of children in Elementary Schools respond freely to this method, which is based on the behaviour of mind.  

I believe narration is natural, as did Charlotte Mason.  Just today, Levi came to The Farmer and I telling us all about a show he'd finished watching.  At age 3 1/2 he could easily put his thoughts into words, sequencing events, and enthusiastically sharing what he had learned.  Charlotte tells us...
Narrating is an art, like poetry-making or painting, because it is there, in every child's mind, waiting to be discovered, and is not the result of any process of disciplinary education.....This amazing gift with which normal children are born is allowed to lie fallow in their education. (Home Education Vol. 1, pg. 231)
I've written more extensively about The Art of Narration in the past so I will suffice to add a few quotes and comments here, simply to highlight the basics.  There are some things to keep in mind to encourage a great start with narration....
Until he is six, let Bobbie narrate only when and what he has a mind to.  He must not be called upon to tell anything. (Home Education Vol. 1, pg. 231)
The points to be borne in mind are, that he should have no book which is not a child's classic; and that, given the right book, it must not be diluted with talk or broken up with questions, but given to the boy in fit portions as wholesome meat for his mind, in the full trust that a child's mind is able to deal with its proper food.   (Home Education Vol. 1, pg. 232)
Charlotte does elaborate on advancing narration to composition only after the child has mastered oral narration.
If we would believe it, composition is as natural as jumping and running to children who have been allowed due use of books.  They should narrate in the first place and they will compose, later, readily enough; but they should not be taught 'composition'.  (Home Education Vol. 1, pg. 247)
In addition, Charlotte mentions the importance of narration as an aid to public speaking...
To secure the power of speaking, I think it would be well if the habit of narration were more encouraged, in place of written composition.  On the whole, it is more useful to be able to speak than to write, and the man or woman who is able to do the former can generally do the latter. (School Education, Vol. 3, pg. 88) 
Now that we are nearly through Charlotte's 20 Principles, I'm seeing that narration is a super important part of her philosophy.   At this point, if someone asked me to narrow Charlotte's philosophy to three main ideas, I would say children are born persons; living books provide pabulum for the mind, and narration is a natural means to better speaking and writing.

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