Middle/High Narrations? What subjects? Literature?

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  • Claire

    I occurs to me that I’m off the CM track this school year with Literture narrations.  I read somewhere (here?) recently that the reason for narration is to secure the information in the child by making it their own.  This implies to me that narration would be limited to subjects where a continuous knowledge is needed – Math, Science, History, Languages, Government/Economics, Geography.  But not really Literature?! 

    I liked what we did last year because we used discussion type questions that were analytical in nature to answer every time we finished a story.  We were doing a course on short stories.  My daughter (12/13 at the time) produced this really nice record of short essays on the pieces she read that year.  And she learned a great deal more about the techniques used in Literature, writing stlyes, etc.

    Now, for some reason I switched her back to daily narrations for Literature that are just (for the most part) retellings of what she has read that day.  This year is full novels for Literature and our foucs is more of a Classic Lit course.  Why on earth I think this is going to be helpful I don’t know! I guess i feared the whole “are you really reading this well?” thing. 

    I think (today!) I’m going to tweak this back to her answering more of an analytical question or prompt about what she has read for the week or some period of time.  I know that I think it’s important to hone that skill for college – the ability to read Literature, analyize what you have read and write that in an essay/paper format.  So that is my focus for high school Literature.

    Any thoughts SCM/Sonya, everyone else?  What are you doing with Literature narrations for Middle and HS?

    PS-My middle school son just narrates Literature orally.

    Sonya Shafer

    You’re right that in the upper grades the narration should move more into critical thinking skills rather than just retelling. The trick is to ask good questions that encourage higher thinking but not to remove the joy of the book. Here are Charlotte’s thoughts on the matter.

    Other Ways of using Books.—But this is only one way to use books: others are to enumerate the statements in a given paragraph or chapter; to analyse a chapter, to divide it into paragraphs under proper headings, to tabulate and classify series; to trace cause to consequence and consequence to cause; to discern character and perceive how character and circumstance interact; to get lessons of life and conduct, or the living knowledge which makes for science, out of books; all this is possible for school boys and girls, and until they have begun to use books for themselves in such ways, they can hardly be said to have begun their education.

    The Teacher’s Part.—The teacher’s part is, in the first place, to see what is to be done, to look over the work of the day in advance and see what mental discipline, as well as what vital knowledge, this and that lesson afford; and then to set such questions and such tasks as shall give full scope to his pupils’ mental activity. Let marginal notes be freely made, as neatly and beautifully as may be, for books should be handled with reverence. Let numbers, letters, underlining be used to help the eye and to save the needless fag of writing abstracts. Let the pupil write for himself half a dozen questions which cover the passage studied; he need not write the answers if he be taught that the mind can know nothing but what it can produce in the form of an answer to a question put by the mind to itself.

    Disciplinary Devices must not come between Children and the Soul of the Book.—These few hints by no means cover the disciplinary uses of a good school-book; but let us be careful that our disciplinary devices, and our mechanical devices to secure and tabulate the substance of knowledge, do not come between the children and that which is the soul of the book, the living thought it contains (Vol. 3, pp. 180, 181).


    Oh, thank you so much Sonya.  This is the perfect passage/s and clarification I sought.  I’m bookmarking these pages in my Vol. 3 to refer back to as needed.   

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