Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Art of Public Speaking

I think you would agree with me that a child who mumbles his memory work with head down is not quite what we want grandma and grandpa to hear at the Thanksgiving gathering. It is only natural that a young child who is at ease reciting Shakespeare's "Where the bee sucks, there suck I…" will be more self assured in other public situations, causing natural shyness to gradually fall away.

Miss Mason believed that the purpose of memory work went beyond the internalization of important facts and noble happy ideas. She thought that children should learn to RECITE in front of an audience clearly and with emotion.

"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 behoove every educated man and woman to be able to speak effectively in public; and, in learning to recite you learn to speak.

…we learn by what carefully graduated steps a child who is not a genius, is not even born of cultivated parents, may be taught the fine art of beautiful and perfect speaking;

The child should speak beautiful thoughts so beautifully, with such delicate rendering of each nuance of meaning that he becomes to the listener the interpreter of the author's thought."


Our children work on memorizing chosen passages for approximately 10 weeks out of a term. During the last two weeks, we work on reciting the passages beautifully. Clear enunciation with appropriate expression is taught. Again, this is only practiced 10 minutes a day. I refrain from making this a boring academic exercise.

One of my daughters has always been extremely shy, but ever since she was six years old, we have helped her in learning to recite; first, to just the immediate family, later, to close friends, until finally, the day came when she could do it to anyone, and at a moment's notice. She had learned to overcome her shyness and enjoyed this mode of communication.

At the end of every term, we have a little 'get together' with another homeschooling family, or grandparents when possible, usually on a holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas; and the children take turns reciting some of their memorized passages. This is NOT a time to show off. We stress this to our children. It is a time to entertain their elders- a time to bless others. We discuss the importance of a job well done, that mumbled words are unintelligible, unlovely and uninspiring; whereas clear diction and lively speaking inspire others and move their emotions. My children look upon it as a gift they are giving to their audience.

I remember the look on the grandparent's faces when my children stood before them reciting inspiring passages such as 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred Lord Tennyson and 'The Destruction of Sennacherib' by Lord Byron, Longfellow's 'A Psalm of Life' and Emily Dickinson's 'I'll tell you how the sun rose...' My dear daddy's eyes filled with tears when my daughters recited with feeling Robert Frost's 'The Road not Taken' and Tennyson's 'Crossing the Bar.'

Yes, I have learned through experience that Recitation or The Art of Public Speaking is a very necessary part of my children's education.

1 comment:

  1. previous commentors29.12.06

    October 11, 2006 - new post

    Posted by marchn341

    I'm just getting started blogging. I don't really know much about blogging, but I like to write, so I'm giving it a try and starting slow! I just added a post about memorization, etc. I welcome anyone to read it. Thanks for your timely post!
    Christy :)

    • Permanent Link

    October 11, 2006 - Untitled Comment

    Posted by spunkyhomeschool

    Thanks for sharing this. I've linked to it.

    • Permanent Link

    October 11, 2006 - Untitled Comment

    Posted by reformingmama

    I can't wait until my daughter turns six! :) No, not really... I'm loving her right now where she's at. But reading about your homeschooling makes me so excited, because I can't wait to start these same things in our home! :)
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.... for being so generous to share what you're doing and how you're doing it. You are such a wonderful resource to those of us wanting to homeschool the CM way.
    Blessings to you and yours today,

    • Permanent Link

    October 11, 2006 - Untitled Comment

    Posted by kateyz

    I fully agree with you, recitation is a very important life skill! We've just started memory work and recitation this year. Already I'm amazed at my boys abilities.
    I'm so happy I discovered Charlotte Mason and the many helpful bloggers who know her better than I do!
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

    • Permanent Link

    October 11, 2006 - Untitled Comment

    Posted by Anonymous

    Do you have a good recommendation for a young, shy 6 year old to start with?

    Lindsey @ enjoythejourney

    • Permanent Link

    October 11, 2006 - Untitled Comment

    Posted by Fiffi

    Hi Lindafay
    You continue to inspire me!
    When we started homeschooling 2 years ago I did get the kids to recite bible verses for the Grandparents....but I have let it slip!
    Thank you for a nudge in the right direction! I do believe that children are capable of alot more than we expect!

    • Permanent Link

    October 12, 2006 - Wise Words...

    Posted by FaithfulGrace

    Bravo, applauding across the ocean.

    I never thought much about shyness until I heard Elisabeth Elliott say
    "Shyness in a child is just a form of self-centeredness". We do not tolerate
    mumbling to adults or acting shy.

    Wishing you a great day,

    • Permanent Link

    October 13, 2006 - Untitled Comment

    Posted by lindafay


    I followed Ambleside's poetry recommendations for my children when they were six. You're probably already familiar with them. We really liked some of Robert L Stevenson's poems and I let my children choose their favorites from there. We also liked some of A.A. Milne's lines. Even though I follow a different order for History, I follow AO's yearly poetry recommendations/compilations. I think they are excellent and the work is already done for me.