Thoughts on Narration

If you know anything about homeschooling the Charlotte Mason way, you know narration is key. Narration is “telling back.” So when I read an Aesop’s Fable to my Ambleside Online Year 1 student, he is supposed to tell it back to me. Not perfectly. The goal is to see how much he understands.

He hates narration. Today at our homeschool coop, I was in the class with him during his Fractured Fairy Tales class. The teacher asks lots of simple questions each class, and today my son whispers to me, “This is way better than narration!” I couldn’t help but laugh at the time. But it made me think…

The teacher’s questions were mainly comprehension, meant to see how closely the students were paying attention. Narration is supposed to include comprehension, but also go beyond and get that brain thinking and applying knowledge, breaking down knowledge. The student talks more than answering a simple question. At least, that’s the way it is supposed to work.

However, if you have a bad attitude toward narration, isn’t that a problem? Shouldn’t there be some rest from it, some funny thing we do instead of narration? I think so. I think my son will not magically find narration pleasant if I constantly make him do it in some form. Even if I ask my questions differently, he knows when it is narration. He won’t be fooled.

My mind is bucking the Charlotte Mason way, but my heart still wants to be CM in the long-run. I wonder if Charlotte Mason herself would be so persistent in her methods in a homeschool situation. A classroom is different because there are more people to share the narrating responsibilities, and Charlotte Mason used her methods in a classroom.


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