Monday, May 16, 2011

Charlotte Mason Study for Mother

I followed a couple of links to this article on teaching in the Charlotte Mason style: Becoming a Charlotte Mason Teacher. I was particularly convicted on the point on narration. I have been far too lax with narrations because they are so painful for First Son (and therefore myself). It's not that we never did narration; he did some every day, but not every lesson. That must change.

I've also been inspired to read another volume of Charlotte Mason's writings this summer. I'm considering A Philosophy of Education. I've read only her first one (Home Education). Those who have read this a good choice?


  1. So what was it that convinced you that narration is imperative for every lesson? I'll confess I've not read much of Charlotte Mason's actual writings, and lately I've been leaning much more toward the classical style laid out in The Well-Trained Mind. We do narration for some lessons, and it has been a somewhat painful process as well, though Simon is getting better, especially if I ask it more along the lines of "tell me three new things you learned about X." But I'm curious what it is that CM says that makes it seem so important for every lesson.

  2. Hilary, I was just commenting on the statement in the article that narration is the way the children process their learning. I would have to check with Charlotte Mason's own writings to see how she says that, but I know for my own purposes (for example) that writing about the books I've read here on the blog is the way I put my thoughts in order, connect what I read with other things I know and remember what I've read. It has made a big difference in how I read. I think it could do the same thing for First Son.

    I should clarify, though, that we do not narrate every single lesson. We don't narrate math, ever, though I guess some people do. He never narrates from our family read-alouds; those are just for enjoyment and to broaden our minds a little. Also, narration for us is much more along the classical lines. I'll start by asking what he remembers (and sometimes First Daughter has to be given a turn or she won't let First Son get anything out). Then I sometimes ask leading questions. I try very hard to not ask anything like "What's the most important thing?" I do ask things like "Who was Demosthenes? What do you remember about him?" I don't know if that's proper Charlotte Mason style, but it's the only way to get anything out of him! I also have to remember to ask him to narrate after a paragraph or two rather than a whole page or he just says he doesn't remember anything.

    I have gotten very lazy lately and have barely asked for any narration beyond Aesop's Fables. I could tell he wasn't paying as much attention as he should and I let it go because I was tired and it was the end of the year. I think it was a mistake, though, so we're going to add the narration back in on the appropriate lessons.

    I should also say he has improved. He's quite good at narrating the fairy tales now. So that's something. Aesop's Fables and fairy tales. History, catechism and science, not so much. It's a work in progress.

  3. Thanks for the clarification. It sounds like our boys are similar in this regard. This year I started out with having him narrate Aesop's fables for practice, and then we moved on to narration for one subject a day, usually science. He does spontaneously narrate what he's learned in history more and more, but I haven't required many history narrations. I also try to look at whether the book we're reading is reasonable to narrate or not. Some of the science books are so many facts on a page that aren't always telling a coherent "story" that *I* would have trouble summarizing. For those we skip narrations.

    Next year, I think he'll be ready for some history narrations. It seems history and science are the main ones where narration would be required, as things like math, spelling, and grammar are all assessed in other ways.

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