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The Art of Narrating

"Narrating is an art, like poetry-making or painting, because it is there, in every child’s mind, waiting to be discovered, and is not the result of any process of disciplinary education. A creative fiat calls it forth. ‘Let him narrate’; and the child narrates, fluently, copiously, in ordered sequence, with fit and graphic details, with a just choice of words, without verbosity or tautology, so soon as he can speak with ease."

-Vol. 1 Part IX.–The Art of Narrating, p.231

Why is narration so important?

1) It trains the mind to take something that was read or heard and mark it as important and to then file it away differently.

2) Attention and narration are tied together. Without the former, the latter doesn't follow.

3) It gives a child the assurance that his/her thoughts matter. When children feel as if their thoughts and ideas are important, then it naturally follows that they become more invested in their own knowledge.

4) Narrating trains the child's mind to process new information and to readily turn it around as something they then communicate to others.

How does narration improve the mind?

Imparting knowledge is more complicated than simply telling a child what he/she needs to know or reading a book which tells what he/she needs to know. Narrating allows the child to handle new knowledge in a natural manner but with more complexity than is readily apparent. It is easier for someone to choose the type and amount of information, transfer it to the child through lecture or reading and then have the child learn just enough to answer questions about it. And it is a much more involved process to have this same child read or listen to a large amount of information, freely choose as they read or listen to what inspires, interests or connects with their own mind and life experiences upon which they wish to focus, and then be ready to turn this input of information into an output in the form of a narration. They will be expected to turn this information over in their mind and share their new knowledge. This expectation will naturally train the mind to pay attention and to process the new information in a manner differently than when it is known that the important information has already been selected and there is nothing through which the child must sort.

How is narration a creative process?

A child who narrates is one who is given the freedom to express his/her own thoughts and feelings in response to something read and, in turn, the freedom to choose their own words or images. Painting a picture, creating an image from modeling clay, acting out a scene, writing a letter, creating a dialogue, extending a scene, turning poetry into prose, writing a character sketch, writing from a different viewpoint, constructing a scene with blocks, turning information into a chart or diagram, writing an essay which take a position and supports it, creating a map based on a vivid description, etc. They are so many ways to narrate. The output or narration a child can give in response to something read is almost without limit. The child can be creative in many different ways and this variety cycles back to the same points mentioned above. It is an assurance that his/her thoughts and ideas matter and that the child has a voice in this world, too. This will lend itself to creating a child who is very invested in their own education and will want to find his/her own path for learning.

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