The CMP Review — Week of November 27

The CMP Review — Week of November 27

November 27, 2023

“It is helpful to remember that we don’t have to do everything or have everything. … Today we have so overcomplicated and stressed our lives, minds, and bodies with the ‘too much’ that we’ve lost a “pearl of great price’: the basics of wholesome everyday life at home. A balanced life.” (Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, For the Family’s Sake)


November 28, 2023

“Relativism flourishes in a setting where appearances become tantamount to reality and where there is no longer any transcendent basis for judging one appearance as better than another,” wrote David Hicks in 1981.

Many home educators have sought relief from the shifting sands of relativism in the apparent stability of classical education. Nowhere was I expecting to hear a more robust defense of this stability than at the 2019 CiRCE National Conference entitled “A Contemplation of Form.” The event was nothing less than a celebration of absolutes in a world of relativism.

On the last day of the conference, however, I heard a comment from the stage that puzzled me. It was a comment that foreshadowed a book that was to be published three years later, in 2022. A book that has forever changed the face of classical education.

Read or hear about the relativization of classical education, and where to go to find absolutes. Find it here.


November 29, 2023

“Take everything you know about building a fire and turn it upside down.”

These words, spoken by the park ranger at Mount Greylock, captured the attention of my boys attending the Jr. Ranger Program. Ten years later, we still use this efficient fire building technique they learned that day.

Learn how to build a traditional Scandinavian top-down fire in the TRADITIONS bundle from Wild + Free (by subscription). With photos by @aolander, we’ll take you step-by-step through the method as well as tips on teaching your children fire safety.


November 30, 2023

Imagine reading Charlotte Mason’s Home Education Series for the first time.

The year was 2007 and I was a young(er) homeschool dad. My firstborn was 6 years old, we were starting formal lessons, and I didn’t know what I was doing. I just knew I wanted to do it the Charlotte Mason way.

In the midst of worries, doubts, and uncertainties, there was one place I would turn to for answers. Six pink-trimmed paperback books, a gift from heaven, a message from a different time and world. I pored over every word and I stored every idea in my heart.

I wanted to share with others what I was learning. Social media was in its infancy, but there was an email discussion group reading the volumes together. I asked if I could join, and then I started sharing my reflections and essays, chapter by chapter. The journey took me through parts of volumes 3, 4, and 6, and all of volume 5.

If you’re reading Charlotte Mason’s Home Education Series for the first (or the nth) time, and you’d like to see the perspective of a dad who loved his children and was looking for light, I’ve ported those emails to a single page organized by chapter so you can follow along with me. Find it here.


December 1, 2023

If your family loves snowflakes as much as we do, I would recommend checking out Jacqueline Briggs Martin’s picture book entitled Snowflake Bentley. It tells the story about Wilson Bentley, a Vermont farmer who spent decades photographing snowflakes through a microscope. This beautiful illustrated biography is sure to charm adults and children alike.
And if you want to learn more about Wilton Bentley and see some of his incredible photomicrography, you can go to
Just before he died in 1931, Bentley published Snow Crystals, a book with over 2400 images he took of snowflakes, frost, and dew, which is still in print today.
Aren’t snowflakes just so amazing?

December 2, 2023

“To the fairy tale we must often look, if we are to mend our ways with the child and lead him forth to find that mighty world, that true self, which is the idea of him laid up in the heart of God.” (Greville MacDonald, The Parents’ Review, Vol. 65, p. 11)


December 3, 2023

One spends but little time in Charlotte Mason circles before one sees images of a massive fresco on the wall and ceiling of the Spanish Chapel of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. Although the fresco’s title now is The Triumph of the Catholic Doctrine, among Charlotte Mason enthusiasts it is often referred to simply as “The Great Recognition.”

This informal title is taken from the name of Chapter 25 of Parents and Children: “The Great Recognition Required of Parents.” It is the idea that “God, the Holy Spirit, is Himself the supreme Educator of mankind.”

Across the range of her writings, Charlotte Mason pointed to many Scriptures in support of this idea, including 1 Samuel 10:10, 1 Chronicles 28:11-12, Isaiah 28:24-26, John 16:12, James 1:17, and James 3:17.

In her poetry volumes, however, she drew perhaps the most extraordinary connection between the Gospels and the Great Recognition. Writing in 1911, she said of John 10:14, “It seems to me that there exists no better comment upon the saying, ‘I said, ye are gods,’ than this expression of mediæval philosophy as embraced by the Church.” Read or hear the striking poem that boldly stands on one of the most mysterious verses of the New Testament. Find it here.


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