Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 49

I guess this is the last day of Week 12!

We actually did a bit of testing today. It was a bit of a sobering experience. I am a "more or less" CMer *(see below) and so that is the context.

I found that Kieron remembered FAR better or at least was able to retrieve far better (those may be two slightly different things) what he had done more or less by rote memory than what he had read in living books, or had read to him.

Now, for context, I rarely ask for narrations. We discuss spontaneously but not after every reading. That's partly what I mean by "more or less". Charlotte Mason insisted on narration after every reading, and for the very reason that I have mentioned -- retention.

She thought the child should do the work of extracting things to remember from the text.... rather than operate by prepared questions and study sheets that would allow the child to soak in passively what needed to be known.

I shall have to reflect. I think also, perhaps, my questions were too broad and general, too much for a child that age. But I also think that he needs a way to "peg" general knowledge on to hooks for retrieval.

Anyway, besides the oral testing he did:

  • A geometry test (interior and exterior angles, directions)
  • a Renaissance quiz
  • a quiz on matter and the four states

I read a bit more of Christ the King to him (finishing chapter 19) and I read him 2 chapters of Red Hugh, Prince of Donegal.

Oh ! and edited to add that the big project today was learning the basics of recorder-playing. I found an old recorder in a drawer and so Kieron and I looked up "how to's" and then he practiced for quite a while.

* "The reader will say with truth,--'I knew all this before and have always acted more or less on these principles'; and I can only point to the unusual results we obtain through adhering, not 'more or less,' but strictly to the principles and practices I have indicated. I suppose the difficulties are of the sort that Lister had to contend with; every surgeon knew that his instruments and appurtenances should be kept clean, but the saving of millions of lives has resulted from the adoption of the great surgeon's antiseptic treatment; that is, from the substitution of exact principles scrupulously applied, for the rather casual 'more or less' methods of earlier days." (see Ambleside Online, What is CM?)

Tomorrow starts Term 3!


  1. A thought provoking post on narration and testing. Like you, I rely a LOT more on spontaneous discussion than narration.

    What do you mean when you say you need to "peg" general knowledge on to hooks for retrieval?

  2. Charlotte Mason talks about how memory is like a long chain. People don't really "forget" anything, but they lose it in their minds, so to speak.

    Having a mental "hook" helps you pull out the whole line of knowledge... or so I was thinking. Probably when you are unschooling or following a kid's interests more actively than I have been doing recently, the child will naturally have retrieval hooks of interest.