Talking About Books

One reason written narration never fully replaces oral narration in a CM education is because we use oral narration more than written narrations all our lives. Narration is really just a shorthand word for talking about something, retelling what we read about, watched, or heard about.

Sharing what happened at a doctor’s appointment or a business meeting is something all of us do. When somebody leaves the room inthe middle of a movie and comes back to ask “What did I miss?” the answer is a narration. When you finish a book or a movie and talk about what you liked best, or what you didn’t like, or what part made no sense to you- that’s a kind of narration, too.

A friend told me recently that when she doesn’t share her reading with another person than she thinks about her reading less coherently (as iron sharpens iron…). She and I have found that talking to each other about what we’re reading and thinking actually lubricates our minds and find ourselves thinking more coherently.

The act of narration is the beginning step in helping children to think about what they are reading more coherently. Talking about what they are reading with others helps them (and us) think about things in different ways, clarify our thinking, iron out muddled bits. So often I have found that when I am discussing a book or movie out loud with somebody, problems I thought I saw evaporate under the warm sunlight of discussion. Sometimes I have a thought or idea that seems so clear and sensible to me I can’t imagine why nobody else has figured this out. But when I take that idea out and air it out in the company of a friend the flaws and contradictions suddenly reveal themselves- even when the friend hasn’t said a word. There’s just something about thinking out loud (or on paper) that requires more clarity and a more careful examination than just musing quietly to myself in the pleasant privacy of my own head.

Telling somebody else what you’re thinking about actually improves the way you think.

This entry was posted in Books, narration, stream of consciousness, Words: Writing, blogging, Wordspotting, etc.. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.


  1. Occasus
    Posted April 16, 2007 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    Hmm, maybe that’s why a master’s thesis examination is given aloud?

  2. dadkulio
    Posted April 16, 2007 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I’ve found several times, to my great surprise, that explaining a problem that I’m working on, even to someone who only understands enough about it to ask “dumb” questions, can be enough to help me see the answer.

    One particularly dramatic case of this occurred when I was trying to solve a networking problem, working all night to try to get it done by the deadline, and the security guards came by on his rounds. We had a little chat, I told him what I was working on, and he asked, among other things, “Why don’t you do such-and-such?” I was starting to say “Of COURSE that won’t work, because….”, and I thought about how to explain in simple terms WHY it wouldn’t work, realized that just maybe it was worth trying, and found my solution.

  3. Jenny
    Posted April 25, 2007 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    I really appreciated this post. I am trying to incorporate more CM ideas into our day and you have made narration sound so easy to implement. Thank you!

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