Narration Misunderstandings Clarified
The following narration misunderstandings are addressed to demonstrate why the misunderstood idea would not develop the narrator, but the clarified idea will.
Misconception #1: Narrations Are Retellings Only.
This is not true. Narrations, both oral and written, should not be retellings only. A large component of narrations are of this kind, particularly in the very early years, but the concentration of this style should begin to adjust as early as Year Two and should continue to diminish (but not disappear completely) over each consecutive year. Each successive year should see a greater variety of type and style of writing.
Not only narrations, but also the components of writing such as dictation, copywork, recitations and discussion should vary. There are many components which make up the writer, and each of these components cannot be singled out alone as the whole of writing. It is in the entirety of the components, working together, which make up the whole of writing.
It is far more difficult to write a curriculum in which the narrations include variety yet target and build skills needed to grow writers, speakers and thinkers. Creating a balance between growing all minds, but yet maintaining the flexibility to allow minds to differ is not an easy task. Developing the narrator is a critical part of this curriculum.
Narrations Are Varied and Build Skills.
Misconception #2: Narrations Are Writing Assignments Without Purpose.
This idea could not be more wrong, but, unfortunately, it is exactly what I see in many curricula which purport to embrace Charlotte Mason's ideas and methods. Many of these types of curricula are no more than good book lists with a reading schedule and general narration prompts. I've looked at some curricula whose narration prompts can be as vague as "Give an oral narration" after a reading or "Write a narration on ______(event or person)" after a reading. The latter prompt is appropriate sometimes, but should not be the only type available. Over the length of a student's entire education, these types of narration prompts will become writing assignments without purpose.
Narrations can vary between creative expression types, exploration of themes, understanding character, identifying literary devices and then applying them, making comparisons, developing all major types of writing and much more. Added to this variety is the increasing complexity of books read and discussed, the increasing levels in the writing components such as grammar and dictation and the increasing expectations to write and speak at a higher level. These narrations with a purpose along with components with a purpose will develop the writer.
Narration is Writing With a Purpose.
Misconception #3: Narrations Are Not For My Child.
While it is true that not all children respond well to narrations at first, I'm not sure that it should be said that they will never respond to them. Consider that perhaps the methods did not suit the teacher rather than the methods did not suit the child. This style of educating is very different from typical classroom methods, and I say this as a former classroom teacher. It is a big task for homeschoolers to take on the monumental task of not only parenting our children but educating them too. Educating with new methods is frightening, because we are unable to see the results until much later. When a method or idea doesn't seem to produce good results immediately, we tend to change the method rather than change our own approach.
Along with those who did not give the method enough time, there are those families who may have used the narration approach correctly, but did not tie it with the other components. In this curriculum, it is extremely important for the narrations to be used along with the components.
Perhaps, given the time and use of accompanying components and methods, the child would grow to enjoy narrating. Perhaps the child simply needs time to adjust to the new expectations, because narrating is not easy and the skills needed for it require much practice.
Narrations Are Accessible to All Children.