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A Writer Blooms from Narration

For those of you with younger children, or those who are relatively new to the ideas and principles behind this educational method, you might wonder what narration looks like nearer the end. What are the results from investing so much time and heart into this method? Narration seems too simplistic at first, and often is dropped when a student reaches the middle school years, when high school begins to loom heavily. But, narration needs time for its reward to show.

Would you like to see two sample timelines of narration progress?

Here are samples from both of my daughters.

The Younger Daughter:

Our Island Story

Age 7

Picture Narration

Text with picture is as follows:

These are the English against the Normans. King Harold is on the English side. Earl Tostig and Harold Hardrada are on the oposing side.

Our Island Story

Age 9

Letter Narration (from Mary, Queen of Scots to Queen Elizabeth I)

Dearest Cousin,

Elizabeth, please help me! I have only the gowns I wear, and I need suitable garments for me and my maid! I am not full of wisdom, but I see that you have the power and ability to give your pleading cousin clothes which I know you can spare from your extensive wardrobe. If I am to stay in this haggard cell, especially as your cousin and close relative, I plead that you will help me. I can do nothing but hope that you have the pity I think you have!



Peter the Great by Diane Stanley

Age 10

Narration List (Qualities a Good Leader Should Have)

Being loyal to his/her people

Educating his/her people

Being just, fair, and kind to his/her people

Holding your standards without being rude or unjust, to your people

Setting good standards for your people, and deleting any laws you think are not right

Showing your people the world and everything in it

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Age 11

Written Narration

Sir Leicester, Mrs. Rouncewell, Volumnia, (his deportment cousin), and George, wait to hear news of Lady Dedlock, and help Sir Leicester get better. He listens and listens for word of her, and often looks outside to hear the clattering of carriage wheels, to find that Mr. Bucket was sucessful. But there is nothing all day long, and Mrs. Rouncewell worries who will tell him if her Ladyship is found dead.

It is a dialogue that Sir Leicester says to all of them that he has done nothing that he regrets to make Lady Dedlock happy, and would forgive her of anything that had happened in the past, if she ever comes back, that makes them worry even more. The wintry night passes, and Volumnia wandering about the house like a ghost with her maid, finally retires to bed, finding it hard to sleep if anything should happened to him, she should lose the small amount of money she had been promised.

No word is yet heard, though, yet it is still early in the morning. Mrs. Rouncewell comforts Sir Leicester as best as she can.

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Age 14

Description of the Relationship between Fitzurse and King John, excerpt

Waldemar Fitzurse is obviously a follower of King John in the book, but their relationship may be a bit shaky, for, in Chapter Nine, at the tournament, John wanted to make Waldemar feel better about his daughter not being named the Queen of Love and Beauty, but he ended up insulting Waldemar by declaring it so publicly, and shaming Waldemar’s daughter. Fitzurse may also have insulted John by pointing out the obvious differences between the king’s brother, Richard, and the mysterious Disinherited Knight, whom John was quick to think might be Richard, returned from The Holy Land. John may have considered this as cheek or insolence.

All in all, King John and Waldemar Fitzurse have a relationship that could be described as “commensalism.” If Waldemar benefits from a situation, King John should not be affected by it, and the other way around. It is interesting to note, however, that Sir Walter Scott may have chosen Waldemar Fitzurse to be somewhat based off of Sir Reginald. King Henry II is said to have been severely angered at Thomas Becket, and at one point is said to have cried: “Will no one enact revenge?” And so the four knights, Reginald included, who were so loyal to the king and who heard this outburst, killed Becket in Canterbury. Perhaps, later on in Ivanhoe, Waldemar will play a part that may shadow his possible inspiration.

The Older Daughter:

All of these narrations are at the High School level. I didn't have time to dig out narrations from when she was younger, but I did want to share some of her work to allow you to see how this looks in the upper levels. Also, these narrations are not finished essays. She completed approximately 2-3 written narrations per day (this doesn't include work such as note-taking for science, etc.). Finished essays were longer, cited and free from errors. I'll try to share one of these in the near future. At this level, I did read and mark her narration work, but we only went through the edit process once. Only formal narrations were edited beyond this. She is currently about to start her sophomore year of college.

History of Art for Young People

The difference between the artist and the artisan is one key thing: risk. Artists experiment with the unknown and unexplored everyday. They call out of their consciousness and the very nature of the world itself.

Artisans are tradesmen who make and design things based on predetermined results. A good example is a potter and dish manufacturer company. The potter when he sits at his wheel may have a rough idea of what he will make but he is prepared for the object to evolve or change in the process. However, the dish manufacturer will be upset and may recieve complaints if one of his dishes doesn't match the others or conform.

The difference between art and products is nonconformity.

The Iliad


Explain the implication of Achilles' stated intention to choose a long inglorious life over death in battle. Why can this be described as a rejection of his culture's entire system of mores?

Her Response:

Firstly, to understand this you must first understand the nature of the society in which Achilles' is brought up. In a society rigidly ruled by men and honor, there is a deeply felt sense of shame that accompanies any failure to meet these aggressive ideals. We hear constantly in the Iliad of warriors fretting over their reputations, their honor and their position in the warrior based society in which they live. The main goal, essentially, in a warrior's life is to collect as much honor and glory as possible before their death. Achilles however defies convention. He no longer takes an interest in the most fundamental things of his society. This also makes it even harder for his friends to relate to him, a man who cares nothing any longer for their most beloved ideals.

Histories (Herodotus)

Queen Nitocris of Babylon

According to Herodotus, there were two great queens of Babylon and one of these was Queen Nitocris. Her reign was characterized by her architectural achievements. Her main accomplishment was her redirection of the Euphrates River and with a bridge built that could be assembled and reassembled during the night to prevent late night crossings and robbery. Even more idiosyncric was her tomb, which she had built over an archway in the city and had a sign put above it that allowed any king who would succeed her top open her tomb and find untold riches. But when King Darius, years later, opened the tomb he found no gold, only a sign that scolded him for his greed in digging up the dead

World Civilization II, final paper, excerpt-concluding paragraph

She received a high "A" on this paper and an "A" in the class

Far be it from lifting the burden from the working class, the machines had only intensified their plight. Their skills were no longer valued and they were forced to work as drones. As with other revolutions and innovations, whether it was the Scientific Revolution or the English Civil War, it was once again the rich and powerful that benefited. In the long run, of course, improvements were made, and the Industrial Revolution became the groundwork for our current age of information and many of the conveniences we enjoy today. But it would be some time before these conditions would improve the quality of life for the everyman. But it was the French Revolution who set this all in motion, because the shape of the future can never be entirely freed of the past.

Narration is highly underrated as a method for developing a writer. What is so often misunderstood is that narration develops what classical writing programs consider essential: invention (coming up with ideas), arrangement (ordering those ideas) and elocution (expressing those ideas with style).

In short, narration works on all three of these-simultaneously.

For example:

Invention: In a narration, the child immediately works with the ideas taken from a source.

Arrangement: The child arranges their thoughts in order to express those ideas; various narration prompts allow for working with different types of arrangement and different skills needed for arrangement.

Elocution: By modeling their words after the styles of the many various and well-accomplished writers of whom they study, students will learn different styles of expression.

Taking notes from a textbook or lecture, learning the format for a formal essay and citing sources can be added in the upper years relatively quickly, allowing a student to transition into college level expectations. In the upper years, we see the student bloom, watching her turn from a narrator into a writer.

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