31 August, 2007

Memorization / Recitation

Happy Friday, Readers!

Members of the international AmblesideOnline e-list may have read my posts earlier in the week. I'll cross post them in one grouping here, for many who are not on that list. It is from my local CM book club reading for our meeting last week. My original post was in reference to CM's advice to focus well and "reading only once." For poetry, though, (and for passages to be recited) we are given a glimpse of a way to "memorize" that is easy, Think of it as "Taking it to heart" instead of memorizing bits and pieces, phrase by phrase.

This is also a post for those who weren't able to meet with us Monday last, and missed out on the discussion.

Read on!

Reading for recitation should be read every day, up to a half-dozen or more times...then it can be memorized without effort. THIS is why poetry can and should be read/enjoyed more than once through. Take in the images, and dwell upon them. Read the beautiful phrases and cadences aloud in a meaningful way. In CM's volume one, (primarily addressing children ages 6-9, but she does expand here and there on other ages) which my local book club has been reading through together this year, CM shares this on pages 224-226:

[side note: "E" is the first letter of the name of the niece whose "easy" poetry memorization story Charlotte is relating to us.]

"I hope that my readers will train their children in the art of recitation; in the coming days, more even than in our own, will it behove every educated man and woman to be able to speak effectively in public; and, in learning to
recite you learn to speak.

Memorising--Recitation and committing to memory are not necessarily the same thing, and it is well to store a child's memory with a good deal of poetry, learnt without labour. Some years ago I chanced to visit a house, the mistress of which had educational notion of her own, upon which she was bringin up a niece. She presented me with a large foolscap sheet written all over with the titles of poems,, some of them long and difficult: Tintern Abbey, for example. She told me that her niece could repeat to me any of those poems that I liked to ask for, and that she had never learnt a single verse by heart in her life. The girl did repeat several of the poems on the list, quite beautifully and without hesitation; and then the lady unfolded her secret. She thought she had made a discovery, and I thought so, too. She read a poem through to "E"; then the next day, while the little girl was making a doll's frock, perhaps she read it again; once again the next day, while E's hair was being brushed. She got in about six or more readings, according to the length of the poem, at odd and unexpected times, and in the end E. could say the poem which she had *not* learned.

I have tried the plan often since, and found it effectual. The child must not try to recollect or to say the verse over to himself, but, as far as may be, present an open mind to receive an impression of interest. Half a dozen repetitions should give children possession of such poems as-"Dolly and Dick,' 'Do you ask what the birds say?' "Little lamb, who made thee?' and the like? The gains of such a method of learning are, that the edge of the child's enjoyment is not taken off by weariful verse by verse repetitions, and , also, that the habit of making mental images is unconsciously formed."

CM goes on to give another example of a convalescing woman who read Lycidas because she was not allowed to do anything else. She was able to repeat long passages of it the next day, and etc. As her health returned, she was not able to do this so well, because she became once again preoccupied with her many other interests in her life.

Taking from what is in the passage I shared and applying it to my youngest, who is 12, I would read a chosen poem to him while he is eating cereal one day. The next day, I might read it aloud and well (but casually, not strictly) while he is playing legos. On the third day, I'd read the same poem aloud again while we're in the car (with one of the teens or hubby driving ;-) going to visit a friend or to homeschool Co-op. On the fourth day I'd read to him while we are sipping iced mochas in Starbucks and the fifth day, while we are taking a walk together. On the sixth day...well, you get the picture.

It reminds of the Bible verse "teach it to your children as you rise up and as you lie down, while you walk by the way..." Others would call it The Hebrew Education. It is centered more in gentle appreciation of the material, not frantic memorization. (with the added benefit of building your relationship with your child) as well as the fact that it happens to become more and more "memorable" or *rememberable* to them in this relaxed, non-stressed out way.

[Brief aside: It is the opposite of our family drive to AWANAs years ago, when kids were frustrated maybe to tears, b/c they had waited too long to truly "memorize" their verses. We needed to have taken time to ingest and absorb those life verses, instead of what it had eventually become...a legalistic approach to scripture memorization prompted by rewards. Ugh. I hope they forgive us for that time. I wasn't all for nothing, b/c God's word never returns void. We learn scripture much more naturally, now.]

I cannot convey how much I'm enjoying reading CM's volumes this second time
around and applying it to our younger two and their particular needs and strengths, since our older two are pretty well set in their lifelong learning. Our oldest son graduated last spring and is preparing for colllege entrance in January. Dd is 16 but she has almost completed her high school classes. I can also apply it to my Spanish classes and sessions.

The topic of the Science of Relations (relationships) is my most passionate topic that I speak on in our local hs group every year. It is given especially for the new homeschool moms in a specifically designed curriculum written for them, so that they can imagine a broader view of homebuilding for their families.

This is my heart for homeschooling and for mentoring others along
the way:

We can be a bridge that helps our children (and perhaps even our friends!) build relationships with the famous, the infamous, the wise, brave, and the noble. We may simply introduce them to some of these, and share in the joy of getting to know others of these. But it definitely strengthens our bonds by building common interests in not only words and sounds, but with people, places, and things. It works, and it is priceless, cheaper AND *better* than any curriculum package out there. Now take that savings to the bank :-).



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