CMP Review 2023-08-27

CMP Review 2023-08-27

Mystery surrounds the origin of narration in the Charlotte Mason method. Of course narration is introduced in Home Education on pages 231–233. Since this was Mason’s first volume, it may be supposed that narration was there from the start. But these pages were new to the Fourth Edition published in 1905. The earlier editions were silent on the topic. They did not even mention the word.

Narration first appeared in the PNEU literature in the very first programme, dated 1892. In June of that year, Mason’s Parents’ Review article “The Home School” revealed the first description of the practice that became a hallmark of her method: “Now the Parents’ Review School requires a good deal of Bible study. The suggestion as to method is, ‘Read aloud to the children a few verses, deliberately, carefully, and with just expression; require them to narrate what they have listened.’”

The first narration was the narration of Scripture.

Professors Chalcarft, Elton–Chalcarft, Ackroyd, and Jones recently published a monograph exploring Charlotte Mason’s volumes of sacred poetry. These researchers shed further light on the mystery as they write: “The method of reading or listening to a reading, followed by recall/narration, was itself an importation into all forms of reading, of a method first grounded in learning the Bible. [Mason’s] biblical hermeneutics, so to speak, became the bedrock of her educational philosophy and emphasis on reading and recall/narration.”

“Now this is no parrot-exercise,” clarified Mason in her final volume. “It is only by trying the method oneself on such an incident, for example, as the visit of Nicodemus or the talk with the woman of Samaria” that one can see the life and power of narration.

Imagine when Mason narrates the story of a man born blind who begins to see. It opens the eyes of the heart to new light. Listen or read it here.