Schools! Save Space and Money! Use Narration!

In a day and age of an abundance of educational  teaching materials  and classrooms specialized to the particulars of students, the educational community might need a simple breath of fresh air.

I recently acquired a teachers manual for lower elementary literature studies. This five inch thick spiral bound behemoth could probably leave a dent if you threw it at your car.

With curiosity, I opened it up and was immediately overwhelmed. The volume of text, bubble side bars, and extension activity ideas that teachers must wade through to simply present a book to a class was vast. Reading a few of the directives and suggestions made it clear that the student was seen as, frankly, an idiot. What an absolute insult to the intelligence of the students and the teacher for that matter.– well a sermon for another day. However, the amount of effort and expense that goes into such ‘good’ classroom teaching material is astonishing. Charlotte comments on this in her volumes – teachers of her day had their own share of drabble, twaddle, and apple unit studies. It’s not just for her day though. It is alive and well today.

Given the current struggle for good curriculum for schools, this rant of mine might seem almost outdated. The current state of things is definitely worth its fight, however even in schools and homeschools that have decent curriculum, nevertheless, the curriculum is still poor. It may not be overtly offensive, yet it offends. It offends the student who has dignity and is made to be valued and respected. A child who does not have this sense of value and worth, will in fact live ‘up’ (or more descriptively ‘down’) to the level at which they are ‘programmed’ to live. In other words, treat the child like a sub-human, teach the child like a sub-human, and they will act like a sub-human. I would suggest strongly that the issues we face today can be strictly tied to this concept. Dignity is the word that education needs.
The picture below is one of many insulting words and pictures in the first grade student text I acquired. Need I say more about how to insult the intelligence of a person?

Charlotte talks strongly about Despising and Offending the children. That is for another post. I would simply add the word insulting. Is the education being offered to the children Insulting?

It could all be removed from schools. School districts could save thousands refusing to purchase such materials and replace these weighty learning-stifflers with a simple, effective and free method– narration. The uncomplicated process of narration with quality books and experiences is superior to anything out there.

In case you need some raw dollar signs. The particular book I acquired was published 10 years ago and was being thrown out for the next edition upgrade. Here is how much money per book that the school district sent to the trash. Student book = $25.00 x 25 per classroom x 6 first grade classrooms in the district. Teacher’s book $95.00 x 6. That’s $4300 to recycling. A good book, worth it’s weight lives on forever and needs never to be updated or replaced. Oh the lasting, quality books I could purchase with $4500 dollars.

Our school systems are also funneling children into more and more specialized learning systems. We have classes for one type of student, classes for other types. Some learn one way, some need help to learn according to their own specialized particulars. This is producing an ever increasing demand on our schools to be everything, do everything, provide everything for every specialized person. Truly we are all specialized, we all have our own special ways, thoughts, and learning styles. And truly there is one method that wraps all that together into one simple, and might I add again, free, package. Narration. The essence of narration IS specialized- it is a personal interaction with books or things which leads to knowledge. 

It is SIMPLE and it is FOR EVERYONE!


“I am anxious to bring this idea of a discovery before the reader because our methods are so simple and obvious that people are inclined to take them up at random and say that extensive reading is a “good idea which we have all tried more or less” and that free narration “is a good plan in which there is nothing new.” It is true that we all read and that narration is as natural as breathing, its value depending solely upon what is narrated. – Volume 6 p.290

Everyone Can Do It.

“What we have perhaps failed to discover hitherto is the immense hunger for knowledge (curiosity) existing in everyone and the immeasurable power of attention with which everyone is endowed;…- Volume 6 p.290

“Children Narrate by Nature.––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. This amazing gift with which normal children are born is allowed to lie fallow in their education. —Volume 1 p.231

“Indeed, it is most interesting to hear children of seven or eight go through a long story without missing a detail, putting every event in its right order.—Volume 1 p.289

“the power of such composition is innate in children and is not the result of instruction. – Volume 6 p.191

“…while we grown-up persons read and forget because we do not take the pains to know as we read, these young students have the powers of perfect recollection and just application because they have read with attention and concentration and have in every case reproduced what they have read in narration, or, the gist of some portion of it, in writing.” – Volume 6 p.185

“…act of knowing,’ as easy to a child as breathing and, if we would believe it, comparatively easy to ourselves. –  Volume 6 p.100

“This is a power which a barrister, a publisher, a scholar, labours to acquire; and it is a power which children can acquire with great ease, and once acquired, the gulf is bridged which divides the reading from the non-reading community. – Volume 3 p.180

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