The CMP Review — Week of February 13

The CMP Review — Week of February 13

February 13, 2023

“In this matter of instruction in the things of Nature, we owe yet more to ourselves: for,

‘Nature never did betray the heart that loved her’;—

and, in return for our discriminating and loving observation, she gives us the joy of a beautiful and delightful intimacy, a thrill of pleasure in the greeting of every old friend in field or hedgerow or starry sky, of delightful excitement in making a new acquaintance.” (Vol. 4, bk 2, p. 98)


February 14, 2023

Nearly a century ago, a group of parents met in a drawing room in Rondebosch, South Africa to discuss a very important question: should they start a local branch of the Parents’ National Educational Union (PNEU), the international organization that embodied Charlotte Mason’s educational work?

To advocate for a “yes,” a mother named Madeline Conyers Alston stepped forward and presented a concise summary and persuasive description of the Charlotte Mason method. Her presentation was convincing enough to sway the attendees and informative enough to be published in the Parents’ Review.

Mrs. Conyers Alston’s love for the PNEU and the Charlotte Mason method propelled her to write many more articles for the Parents’ Review and to eventually become a member of the Executive Community. Her ability to explain and promote the organization was always valued.

Alston’s 1924 paper included a wonderful prediction: “The day will come, I believe, when Miss Mason will be reckoned among the great educational reformers.” We live in an exciting time when Alston’s prediction is being fulfilled. And as the Charlotte Mason method is being revived in South Africa and in other countries around the world, we have decided to revive Alston’s energetic and convincing paper. May it introduce, clarify, or remind you of what makes a Charlotte Mason education so revolutionary and living. Read or listen here.


February 15, 2023

There comes a moment in our homeschool lives when we have the realization, “My work here is done.” That moment came when my recent grad suggested a Jane Austen-movie marathon for Valentine’s Day.

Speaking of Jane, I just returned from the Charlotte Mason Educational Retreat in Colorado where we opened with a plenary on Jane Austen and the teaching of literature, followed by a breakout session on Jane Austen embroidery and a rousing and animated book discussion of Persuasion.

Here are some of the beautiful editions brought by the attendees!

If you’re looking for a beautiful retreat, you should definitely consider the CMER, hosted at the foot of Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs. Check out their site here.


February 16, 2023

A friend recently emailed me: “The question then, is, whether or not CM started developing a theory of education that can and should be improved on? Or do you think her achievement was comprehensive enough to be taught as it is?”

Here’s my verbatim response to him:

That is a very interesting question. I can tell you how Charlotte Mason would have answered it. I think her 1912 article “Three Educational Idylls” should be required reading for all students of Charlotte Mason. (This article is what inspired the name for “The Idyll Challenge.“) In this article, Mason wrote:

“I lamented dolorously to her that the members of the Parents’ Union hardly seemed to realize that we stand for the most advanced, and, I suppose, the final movement in educational philosophy.”

She thought hers was “the final movement” in educational philosophy. As one whose life has been transformed by Mason’s life-giving ideas, I will not disagree.

That being said I would differentiate between her theory and an implementation of that theory in a particular place and time. Mason designed a curriculum for British students over a century ago; I don’t think that curriculum is applicable for 21st century Americans. So I don’t attempt to “re-enact” her programmes in my homeschool. Rather, I attempt to implement her principles in a way that reflects my context. And I actually think that is what Mason intended.

I believe Mason based her theory of education on two things that will never change: (1) the truth of Scripture and (2) the nature of the human person, including the physical brain. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” as we read in Hebrews, and the plasticity of the brain is forever encoded in our DNA. To the extent to which Mason’s philosophy is built on those unshakable foundations, I feel that my personal calling is to understand it, not to improve it.

It is that understanding which I still seek, as I read and study every single day.


February 17, 2023

Our new thing over the last month and a bit has been to get outside for a walk in the forest late in the evening. (Hello, teenager!)

The forest is such a different place after dark. Everything seems calm and quiet and still. Well, except when our movement sends the deer bounding out of their beds. (“Sorry to startle you, 🦌 friends!“)

Depending on the state of the moon, the clouds, and the sky, our nighttime winter walks can range anywhere from dark, to light, or even to dazzlingly bright.

We have been surprised, actually, at how much we can see in the dark, even without the light of the moon. But, with a full moon and a clear sky, the light on the snow is impressive.

For skiing, though, Serafina wears a headlamp, so that she can see what’s in front of her as she is speeding along.

Do you like going out for nighttime walks?


February 18, 2023

Came across these beauties entirely covering a log on a hike yesterday. Since we were out for exercise, I slowed down just long enough to snap a pic, but didn’t gain a 100% ID.

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) can be used medicinally in teas and tinctures, but it has a few lookalikes. Some keys in their identification are 1) Look at the underside. It should be white and full of tiny pores just visible with the naked eye. 2) The tops should be slightly velvety. 3) The color zones should be highly contrasting.

Turkey Tail grows around the world and often near to False Turkey Tail (Stereum ostrae). This lookalike isn’t known to be toxic, and is easy to differentiate since its underside is completely smooth—making for a nice study in plant identification when you’re out on a nature walk!

Always remember, safety first when identifying fungi.


February 19, 2023

In Acts 2 we read of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The believers were all in one place and then “suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” Since that day, countless believers have desired and longed for a similar experience with the Holy Spirit of God.

Taking his cue from John 7:39, Joseph Dongell makes several keen observations about the pouring out of the Holy Spirit:

First, it is Jesus who gives the Spirit as water to the thirsty. The Spirit does not stand as a power independent of Jesus, nor as a focus of faith distinct from Jesus. In coming to and believing in Jesus, the Spirit is given.

Second, the gift of the Spirit comes in such abundance that what begins as a quest for a ‘drink’ becomes the discovery of a ‘river’! In many ways, grace far exceeds human expectation and desires, not only at the point of initial faith but throughout the entire course of Christian experience.

Third, this gift of abundant water fulfills the longing of God’s people, a longing witnessed by the Old Testament… All of the deepest desires of humankind are richly supplied in the water Jesus gives.

Fourth, the giving of the Spirit would happen only according to the larger plan of God. Not until Jesus had been glorified would the Spirit be given in the measure Jesus promised. Fulfillment of the Father’s desire to indwell believers would need to await the completion of the Son’s earthly mission.

Charlotte Mason also took her theological cues from John 7:39. Nearly rehearsing the same four observations, she does so in unforgettable poetic form. Read or listen to Charlotte Mason’s verses which point to the one true source of the water of life.


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