Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Method of Learning

I'm up late again, almost halfway through "the little green book", Charlotte Mason Reviewed and came across an explanation of the method of learning advocated by CM and thought it was definitely worth posting here. I've often found it difficult at times to dig up the "how to" in CMs 6 volumes of writings and was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon this tonight. Although I think CM would insist that an understanding of her philosophy is most important, I think that with that, it is helpful for me to also see the method. Keep in mind this method is outlined for a classroom setting with multiple students.

1. Each lesson begins with some form of recapitulation of the previous lesson.
2. The day's lesson is then introduced, names, dates, pictures and difficult words learnt.
3. A passage is read aloud preferably by the pupils.
4. The passage must be long enough to capture the interest of the pupils and to hold their attention, leaving them with an appetite for more.
5. This passage is then retold by one or more pupils, beginning at the beginning and following the whole sequence of the argument. No corrections or interruptions are allowed during this narration (from the teacher or anyone other than the narrator). The passage is never reread.
6. The teacher then draws from the class any necessary corrections or emphasis of important facts through discussion and question.

The last 2 points helped to clarify a bit of confusion for me. Having read parts of her 6 volumes, I somehow came away with the perception that there shouldn't be much discussion or questioning about the material - probably from her idea of not filtering ideas and information or watering it down through the teacher. Anyhow, I think I had taken that to the extreme to where I wasn't saying much of anything so we were missing out on a lot of great discussions about our readings! Call me silly, but these things can happen when we're operating as an island in our own homeschools and there isn't a clear cut "How to do CM" outline for newbies. That's why I think our discussions and having others to talk through these things with while processing it all is so essential in actually implementing a CM education.

The book goes on to say narrations can be mixed up for variety by having the children illustrate their narrations or have dramatic representations. Kristine told me about how she had her boys position her and their brothers to look the same as the painting of The Knight's Dream by Raphael Sanzio, which was their art study for the week, so I stole her idea and did the same. What a fun time! They kept fixing and moving and finding things to use as props and fixing and changing things to resemble the painting and they giggled the whole way through. So fun :)

(As a side note: CM did not recommend children narrate until they were 6 yrs old and written narrations are not expected until they are around 10 yrs old.)

I'm realizing more and more that narration is not for the sake of my being able to gauge how much my kids remember or how much they're getting. It's really not for me, but for 'the children's sake'. My understanding is that narration is for them to process what is read and to organize it in their minds and through that process make it their own. For them to think through ideas and thoughts and how they apply in relation to what they already know. How it applies to their life experiences. For them to become skilled in the use of good language and to be able to express their thoughts clearly and skillfully. There are so many facets to what narration does for our kids, it is just amazing.

An audio I listened to tonight (link below) said that narration is an art, like composing poetry. It is something that is developed over time. I think it would be fun for us to try it sometime at one of our meetings (as Greta suggested before). I think I'll act the part of the facilitator since I know I am horrible at narration. If I can't refer back to it I am lost.

I love this quote, which I think applies to narration, from Jenny King in the book:

We value most those things for which we have striven, thus the knowledge obtained through a disciplined application of the mind is the knowledge we value and care about.

Oh, and what about this one:

As the power of gravity holds the universe in place so man's soul is held in the palm of God's hand.

Now that's a 'living' quote if I ever saw one!

Here's the audio I mentioned above put out by Childlight from one of their conferences called "Goods of the Gods: Respecting the Child's Proclivity to Narrate". It's really long and if you don't like Southern accents, you'll struggle with it, but if you're like me and you're working on figuring out this narration thing right now, it's a good one to listen to.

Okay, off to bed to give my brain a rest :)

1 comment:

  1. What a great idea to have narration as a topic for our one of our upcoming meetings. To have us mamas actually hear a reading from a living book and give a narration will give us a better understanding of what we expect of our children. I myself have been giving Julia a narration before I expect her to give me one and I think it has helped her. Modeling for our children gives them the 'know how' and inspiration that they need.