As I sat down to plan out some details of our next semester in the new year, I read some encouraging words from Charlotte Mason on composition. Exciting words, really. Wouldn’t you like to think that a practice in your school might someday result in a Homer, Scott or Shakespeare?
Among these is the art of composition, that art of ‘telling’ which culminates in a Scott or a Homer and begins with the toddling persons of two and three who talk a great deal to each other and are surely engaged in ‘telling’ though no grown-up, not even a mother, can understand. (Mason, Vol. 6, p. 190)
Mason describes composition as almost entirely oral during the first few years of school. This form of composition is what we call narration. This early foundation of oral work, practiced throughout the student’s years, should yield students with excellent composition abilities in their later school years. One of the biggest challenges is actually implementing this method in the daily, consistent manner which Mason prescribes. She meant for composition (oral and written) to be used daily and in every subject. “Composition is not an adjunct but an integral part of their education in every subject.” (Mason, Vol. 6. p. 192)
The day-in, day-out practice of narration eventually will become second nature – a habit, if you will. As they mature and venture into more advanced types of composition, they will tell what they know and increasingly add their own touch to their work. Mason tells us that this is exactly what great writers do.
How is it possible, it may be asked, to show originality in ‘mere narration’? Let us ask Scott, Shakespeare, Homer, who told what they knew, that is narrated, but with continual scintillations from their own genius playing upon the written word. Just so in their small degree do the children narrate; they see it all so vividly that when you read or hear their versions the theme is illuminated for you too. (Mason, Vol. 6, p. 182)
As you work with your students this new semester, remember the practice of narration as composition. You will be building a strong foundation for their future writing skills.
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