Have you ever read a page of print and stopped to think, “Now what did I just read?” This often happens to me when I’m reading non-fiction, and sadly, sometimes when I read the Bible. The mental practice of narration has changed the way I read. Narration is simply telling back in oral, written, or visual form what you have read or heard.
If I am reading something demanding or complicated, I may read only a paragraph and then narrate to be certain I understand and have internalized the information. By internalizing, I am not referring to reading and thinking, “Yes, I understand,” or “That makes sense.” If I cannot retell or write in my own words, I know I lack a full understanding of the content, or I have not made it my own. Sometimes I begin to understand what I read as I am narrating.
Narration can change your life by teaching you how to think, not just what to think or even when to think, but how.
Narration increases understanding.
You will be surprised how much better you understand the content when you narrate what you read or hear.
Narration improves memory.
“I have discovered it is of some use when you lie down in bed at night and gaze into the darkness to repeat in your mind the things that you have been studying…Not only does it help in the understanding, but also the memory.” – Leonardo da Vinci
Recall is vastly improved when you take the time to tell yourself or someone else what you have read or heard.
Narration makes knowledge your own.
Narration actually helps you to assimilate knowledge. The mental practice of narration is an act of knowing. It is a method of doing something with what you have learned. It is in the doing that knowledge becomes your own, that it becomes a part of you.
You can change your life beginning today with this one mental practice. Here’s how:
Choose a scripture passage or a book you have wanted to read and determine to narrate it.
After you have read a chapter, or a page, or even a paragraph, reproduce in your own words the essence of what you read. Narrations can be written, illustrated, or recorded to listen to later. (Voice Memos on my iPhone has been a handy way to record a short narration.) You can narrate orally to a friend, your husband, or even to yourself. Narrating mentally to yourself is especially challenging and requires focused attention.
Narration is not repeating from rote memory. Start the practice by retelling. Then as you grow in the skill of narration, you will see that mentally you are:
- taking the time to synthesize the information
- pulling out the main ideas
- stating the ideas in your own words
- adding details as they relate to the ideas
You will be amazed at the transformation in the way you think!
This week, narrate orally, in a written form, or in a visual form such as sketching or painting, the main ideas from something you have read. You will see that narration increases your understanding and enhances your ability to retrieve knowledge. When you recognize the benefits of this practice, you will want to give the advantage of learning through narration to your children.