Friday, November 9, 2012

Dear Charlotte Mason Friend,

Let's talk about how to begin implementing narration.  It is a foundational principle in a CM education.  I would love to show you what narration is and the “how to” of this gentle style of teaching composition.  Yes, composition - that's what narration is - natural composition. It starts as only oral telling and eventually flows into written narrations.  More on that in another post... for now, begin by recognizing that narration is less about the teacher and more about the student and the process of the mind.  It is not a comprehension test. 

If you are already home educating and this method is new to you, the best way to introduce this to yourself and kids (IMHO) might be to start with the response “really, tell me about that!”  whenever one of your kids start to tell you about something they read or did or discovered with any subject – school or not.  Then listen to what they say, don’t interrupt or quiz them, just let them tell you.  An occasional prompt of “what else/what next?” is acceptable.  When they finish, unless they ask you to give input or you recognize something contrary to scripture that should be shown, just say “Great!  Thanks for telling me!” and keep your opinion to yourself – no lectures.  I have to admit it is really hard to do that & takes restraint & practice - on your part mostly!  After you are comfortable doing that (maybe a week, maybe a month, sometimes longer), start asking them to tell you about what they heard or read after some readings for school.  You could begin with this if you are just starting homeschooling, but sometimes, especially when you are already homeschooling,  if you force this into "school subjects" it comes across as “testing” and it won’t flow as naturally for you or your student.  Mom can practice her part first (the kids won't even know) and try it out on other things, weaving it into real life.  Learn to listen to your kiddos tell you things that interest them while you practice restraint by not adding all your own opinions.

Now, go read chapter 7 in volume 6 here: - you can read it in the original language by clicking on ch. 7 or in the modern paraphrase (quite good) at the top of the page.  Then if you like, you can go to our yahoo group files (I'll try to post this here if I can figure it out!)  and see the notes from where we discussed this chapter in our meetings.  The reading will give you more why and a little contrasting theory to prove the method.  

Just do the things I suggested above as the first practical step of “how to”. And, try to tell someone about something you read recently or maybe tell about the sermon you heard on Sunday.  This might give you a better idea of how your mind goes through this process - you can't tell what you don't know!  See how much better your remember it and how the work of the mind helps to process ideas.  You will get a sense of how that looks in your school day as you begin to implement narration.  You will find your self amazed at how insightful your kids can be when they work for themselves on thinking about ideas and then articulate that - or as we call it, narration.

Listen to your children tell you stuff today,