Thanks for the Memories

I’m actually not very good with remembering things. I was listening to a podcast with Karen Glass, author of Know and Tell: The Art of Narration, and she mentioned that Charlotte Mason made a distinction between Memorization and Memory. Yep, memorization, that’s me. What I’ve been good with is deliberate memorizing of things — scripture, choir music, piano recital pieces, phone numbers, birthdays. I don’t remember lyrics to songs from just having heard or sung them a lot, or piano pieces from just playing them a lot. Those things I have to deliberately memorize. And years later, maybe part of them are still with me. I don’t know if people are like this in real life, but in books and movies you have characters like Father Tim in Jan Karon’s novels, or Marianne in Sense and Sensibility who just randomly quote favorite lines from poetry. They’ve read a lot, loved the things they’ve read and somehow they know them from the heart and by heart. I feel so jealous of Father Tim when he does that. Recalls just the proper line, perfect for the moment. And he doesn’t have to google it.

My siblings remember details from our past far better than I do. I often wonder, ‘Where was I? Was I not really taking in the moment? Was I too distracted by my dreaming of someplace else, some future time?’

I love dictionaries and encyclopedias. I love movies, especially old movies. With my first earned money out of high school, I bought books about the movies and the Oscars. I’m probably looking something up on every day. I’m a trivia person, I think. My husband will marvel from time to time about how I know actors and their films (even before I check imdb), but it’s not from having actually watched the movies. I read about movies way more than I give a movie a couple of hours of my life.

Giving my son a “living books education”, which involves narration for a great part of it, is not something that comes naturally for me. Fortunately for him, I did a lot of reading in his toddler years (and continue to do so) of Charlotte Mason and other educational philosophers, as well as online discussions with my AmblesideOnline friends, and was convinced that this was the best way of learning for him (and anyone).  Over the years I have become more and more convinced that it is the proper and only way to really learn, to really know. And looking back on my struggles in high school with essay questions on exams, and writing term papers, and at the end of my 2 years of graduate school, my failure to pass my oral exams, I see now the great value of learning with a narrative style of school-books and always, always, always “telling back”. You do not really know unless you can tell back. (Remind me to tell you what happened 1.5 years later when I retook my oral exam for my Master’s degree.) After nearly a decade at being at this narration thing, we still struggle mightily. But I can’t let up. I cannot fail him in this. Or he will be just like me. Not remembering. Not really knowing.


I wrote the above 2 weeks ago and have let it sit. I will now click Publish without any editing. It is what it was and what it is. Except let me add a quote below. That’ll be good. Oh, and I want a video of Rosemary Clooney singing, “I Remember You” just because I love her so much and it has Remember in the title.

“Do not let the endless succession of small things crowd great ideals out of sight and out of mind.”  ~Charlotte Mason


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