The CMP Review — Week of December 11

The CMP Review — Week of December 11

December 11, 2023

“In Science, or rather, nature study, we attach great importance to recognition, believing that the power to recognise and name a plant or stone or constellation involves classification and includes a good deal of knowledge. To know a plant by its gesture and habitat, its time and its way of flowering and fruiting; a bird by its flight and song and its times of coming and going; to know when, year after year, you may come upon the redstart and the pied fly-catcher, means a good deal of interested observation, and of, at any rate, the material for science.” (School Education, p. 236)


December 12, 2023

Last week we shared the inspiring story of a 1935 home schoolroom. The author, a very capable and resourceful mother, found that with the help of the Charlotte Mason method, she could successfully teach her own children at home. Still, there was one challenge she could not overcome: she could not afford records and she could not play great works on the piano. Thus she could not include musical appreciation in the feast.

This same mother would be bewildered by the range of music available to us today. Thanks to the internet and music streaming, the great works of the centuries are only a click away. But this information overload creates its own problems. Where do we start? And how do we stay focused once we do get started?

Donald Beswick was a schoolteacher who loved classical music and loved sharing it with others. In March we shared his 1961 case for classical music. Today we share his sequel, which talks about how to build a classical music library that will bless you and your children.

Of course, we’re not suggesting that you turn back the clock and turn on the turntable. But we are suggesting that the principles and insights of teacher Beswick may help you find the proverbial needle in the haystack — the clues and next steps that will help you search the great vault of music on the other side of the internet to find the little joys that will transform the hearts of everyone in your home. Find it here.


December 13, 2023

Charlotte made me do it.

I volunteered to lead the First Day Hike at our nearby nature preserve on New Year’s Day. It’s not the 9:30 am start time, the crisp mountain temps, or the 3-mile hike that has me shaking my head. It’s the fact that my introverted self will be leading a group of strangers, and not my children, on a 2-hour nature walk. All I can think is, “Charlotte made me do it.”

Do you take a First Day Hike with your family? Tell us in the comments.


📷 @aolander

December 14, 2023

In her book School Education, Charlotte Mason draws a distinction between interests and relations. “Interests may be casual, unworthy, and passing,” she explains. But when it comes to relations, she insists that “to make valid any one relation, implies that knowledge has begun in, at any rate, that one direction.”

When we added architecture to our homeschool curriculum, I’m not sure I was aiming for much more than interest. But I do believe we found a relation. It’s been a while since the books were closed, but our eyes and ears remain open and attentive when our travels bring us to interesting buildings, especially churches.

We had read about how the Romanesque style gave way to the Gothic style in Europe. How interesting then to find that the crypt of the Washington National Cathedral contains a beautiful Romanesque chapel. This design choice was a nod to the fact that many medieval Gothic cathedrals were built on the foundations of earlier Romanesque churches.

During our recent visit to Washington, DC, we admired the cathedral’s architectural features, from the crypt to the tower. An unexpected delight was to find the room where a team is building the world’s largest cathedral made entirely from LEGO® bricks. The work-in-progress gave us yet another view into the art and engineering that makes a building great. And we got to lay a few bricks ourselves!


December 15, 2023

by Archibald Lampman (1861–1899, Ontario, Canada)

White are the far-off plains, and white

The fading forests grow;

The wind dies out along the height,

And denser still the snow,

A gathering weight on roof and tree,

Falls down scarce audibly.

The road before me smooths and fills

Apace, and all about

The fences dwindle, and the hills

Are blotted slowly out;

The naked trees loom spectrally

Into the dim white sky.

The meadows and far-sheeted streams

Lie still without a sound;

Like some soft minister of dreams

The snow-fall hoods me round;

In wood and water, earth and air,

A silence everywhere.

Save when at lonely intervals

Some farmer’s sleigh, urged on,

With rustling runners and sharp bells,

Swings by me and is gone;

Or from the empty waste I hear

A sound remote and clear;

The barking of a dog, or call

To cattle, sharply pealed,

Borne echoing from some wayside stall

Or barnyard far a-field;

Then all is silent, and the snow

Falls, settling soft and slow.

The evening deepens, and the gray

Folds closer earth and sky;

The world seems shrouded far away;

Its noises sleep, and I,

As secret as yon buried stream,

Plod dumbly on, and dream.


December 16, 2023

My dad flew out for a visit recently, and he and Serafina took up their usual chess playing. She asked him to teach her about fool’s checkmate.

I am so thankful that she has him to learn this sort of thing from, even if it is just a few times a year. Because I know absolutely nothing about chess. 😳


December 17, 2023

“Ancient Bethany occupied an important place in the life of Jesus,” writes Larry McGraw. “Jesus often found Himself staying in Bethany at the home of his closest friends as He ministered in Jerusalem.”

“Located on the Mount of Olives’ eastern slope, Bethany sat ‘about two miles’ (John 11:18 HCSB) southeast of Jerusalem,” he continues. “Bethany became the final stop before Jerusalem just off the main east-west road coming from Jericho. Being at the foot of the mountain, the people could not see Jerusalem, thus giving Bethany a sense of seclusion and quietness.”

How inviting to stay in a place that is secluded and quiet. And even nicer to stay in the house of one’s closest friends. It is this vision of Bethany that Charlotte Mason evokes in her poem entitled “The house of a friend.” The poem is the first of a series of 14 extraordinary poems about one of the most extraordinary miracles of all time. Worrisome news will come to Christ from this village. But for now, read or listen as Mason paints her picture of “a place where we may go for company in loneliness.” Find it here.