CM 3 Audioblog #12 The Art of Recitation

CM 3 Audioblog #12 The Art of Recitation

Show Notes:

Recitation has been called the Children’s Art. Arthur Burrell, the author of Clear Speaking and Good Reading, called it so when he wrote an article, “Recitation: The Children’s Art”, for The Parents’ Review magazine back in 1890. Recitation is a skill that used to be taught in schools many years ago, but thankfully, through our homeschooling opportunities, we can bring it back into the lives of our children, and maybe even ourselves. We can learn to speak beautifully, clearly, and share great ideas of authors that inspire and kindle our hearts.

Show Transcript:

CM EP 12

Julie -

Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Show, a podcast dedicated to discussing Ms. Mason's philosophy, principles, and methods. It is our hope that each episode will leave you inspired and offer practical wisdom on how to provide this rich living education in your modern homeschool. So pull up a chair. We're glad you're here.

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Now, on to the show.

The Art of Recitation

Recitation has been called the children's art. Arthur Burrell, author of Clear Speaking, and Good Reading called it so when he wrote an article, Recitation, The Children's Art, for the Parent's Review Magazine back in 1890.

Recitation is a skill that used to be taught in schools many years ago, but thankfully, through our homeschooling opportunities, we can bring it back into the lives of our children, and maybe, even ourselves.

We can learn to speak beautifully, clearly, and share great ideas of others that inspire and kindle our hearts.

First things first. Recitation is not memorization. As Charlotte Mason reminds us, 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 labor. Page 224 of Home Education.

And, the child must not try to recollect or to say the verse over to himself that is far as may be, present an open mind to receive an impression of interest. Page 224 of Home Education.

So many of us have been accustomed to memorizing Scripture, poetry, or maybe a historic document, simply by repeating, line by line, over and over, and until we can effortlessly speak the information. But what I've noticed, not only in my children, but other children as well, that many times after the child recites the memorized words, passages, or poems, it is quickly forgotten.

I believe this also has a lot to do with Charlotte Mason's beliefs of stretching literature over a term, a year, and sometimes even three years. When you read a living book for an extended period of time, you have a chance to think about what you read throughout the week, ponder on what is to come next, and eagerly return to where we left off the following week.

After completing the reading, many times you will feel as if you've parted with a long-time friend whom you've come to love and adore, and usually, the literature leaves behind a lasting memory of that friendship, whom you might come to revisit in the years to come.

On the contrast, when you engulf a book in a weekend, sure, you might feel a thrill, an excitement, knowing how the story ends so quickly. But usually, that satisfaction fades away and you quickly forget the story. And unfortunately, miss many details that you didn't stop to savor over.

I believe this is similar to memorization vs. recitation. To memorize quickly, with an end goal of simply feeling accomplished, or to check the box, I believe there is little value. But to recite beautiful words over the course of twelve weeks, ponder, make connections, is far more rewarding. Of course, most of the time, you will naturally commit these recitations to memory, which is the beautiful part of recitation. But even if you don't, you will make connections with the words, thoughts, and ideas that will stay with you for a lifetime. And who knows when those words will come to mind when you are in a certain situation.

Specifically, about Bible verses, Mason says, It is a delightful thing to have the memory stored with beautiful, comforting, and inspiring passages. And we cannot tell when and how this manner of seed may spring up, grow, and bear fruit. Page 253 of Home Education.

Charlotte Mason suggests that each term children should recite a Psalm, an Old Testament passage, a New Testament passage, and hymn, and a poem, and/or lines from a Shakespeare play. It will be of great benefit if the chosen selections are what the child is currently studying that term. As your child advances through the forms, the passages should become longer. It is suggested for form one, to start with a Psalm, six verses of Old and New Testament passages, a poem of a child's choice, and a hymn. For form two, you would continue with a Psalm, twelve verses of Old and New Testament passages, 30 to 50 lines of a child's choice of poetry and or lines from a Shakespeare play that you're currently studying, and a hymn or two. You continue, as well, in form three and four by increasing the number of verses and lines reciting.

So, having selected a Psalm, an Old Testament passage, a New Testament passage, hymn, and or poem and Shakespeare lines, you can put all of the selections in a binder and dedicate ten minutes each day to have your student read out loud one passage. You can create a schedule, where on Mondays you recite a Psalm and Tuesdays, an Old Testament passage, on Wednesdays, a New Testament passage, and so on.

Begin by reading the passage to your child, pointing out the noticeable parts, and taking note, not to impose your own emotion that you feel through the passage. Allow the child to bring up their own feelings and emotions through the passage. The child should stand while reading, with a good posture, and being very careful about pronunciations.

Encourage them to speak slowly and eloquently. Charlotte Mason writes, the child should speak beautiful thoughts, so beautifully, with such delicate rendering of each nonsense of meaning, that he becomes, to the listener, the interpreter of the author's thought. Page 223 of Home Education.

Arthur Burrell writes in his article how to teach the children to recite beautifully, and what you should encourage or discourage in the art of recitation. If you ever have the chance to read it, it will greatly enhance recitation lessons in your home. Let's start here. Start now. Recitation should not be difficult to implement. And as you grow in your knowledge of the art, and more, here and there, but never so much that it overwhelms your homeschool.

For good authors cannot die. The human voice is forever, conferring immortality upon them.” Arthur Burrell.

J -

Thank you for joining us today on The Charlotte Mason Show. I'm your host, Julie Ross, and I would love to meet you in person. All of the Great Homeschool Conventions have been rescheduled to 2021. Go to to find a convention near you.

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Thanks for joining me today. Until next time, may your home be filled with books, beauty, and Biblical truth.

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