Brave Writer vs. the other programs
For those of you I met at the APACHE conference, welcome to Brave Writer’s blog! So good to have you. I enjoyed getting to know the many moms new to Brave Writer. One of the primary questions I answered all day both days had to do with what makes Brave Writer distinctive in the homeschool writing market. Seemed like it was time to talk about that here on the blog, again.
Our company name is “Brave Writer,” not “Brave Writing” and there’s a reason for that. We teach writers (people). We’re interested in the quirky process of dredging up words from inside and making them accessible to readers. While it’s important to also talk about form and style, these aren’t relevant as long as the writer is tied up in knots worried about what he or she has to say. Until a writer wants to express an idea or insight or thought or fact, no amount of instruction in the paragraph will make words-worth-reading come forth.
Many writing programs develop curricula focused on formats. They lay out a plan to tackle the descriptive paragraph, the narrative paragraph, the short story, and the business letter. Or they talk about stylistic concerns (how to use adverbs, sentence variety, complex sentences, mimicking other authors). While any writer worth her salt is interested in both of these (the structure of the genre for writing as well as the stylistic demands), until she is comfortable with written self-expression, she’ll find a strict focus on form oppressive and voice-robbing. Worse, she may come to adopt a “false voice” developed through imitation and “puzzle solving.” Focusing on formats too soon leads kids to see writing as a puzzle to solve (how do I fit my words into this set of restrictions?), not as an opportunity for self-expression, eventually whittled down and guided by a format’s organizational principles.
Writers need to be nurtured. They deserve the same kind of compassion, modeling, support and forgiveness we offer to our kids as they learn to talk. When they misspeak a word (mazazine instead of magazine), we run to the baby book to jot it down so we won’t forget Hilda’s cute way of expressing herself at 3 years of age. We know some day she’ll join the rest of us with her pedestrian use of “magazine.” Yet when Hilda at age 8 misspells “because” by writing “becuz,” we cringe. I’ve yet to meet a mother who has gleefully raced to the closet for the baby book to enter that delightful misspelling. We don’t share the same confidence that she will spell “because” correctly one day. Yet she will. And you should enter it in the baby book as an adorable example of her growth in spelling.
Brave Writer’s philosophy is that if you help a person get in touch with what he or she has to say, and if you provide the maximum freedom and space to do it in, all while slowly building the accurate mechanical skills to transcribe those thoughts, you will, without a doubt, cultivate a writer who can face a blank page, confident in the knowledge that what’s inside will make it to the page with clarity, accuracy and panache.
Anyone can google a writing format. That information is ubiquitous. Brave Writer also teaches formats in various classes (fiction, imitation of a classic writer, essay forms, literary analysis, descriptive paragraphs, etc.). Yet the teaching of formats is secondary to the primary goal: getting your kids in touch with the power and value of their own writing voices. Once they discover that what’s inside can be translated into entertaining, satisfying, valuable prose, their ability to learn formats and mechanics goes way up. They now see those aspects of writing as tools to convey what they want readers to know, rather than a puzzle to solve, hunting through the air for words to plug into the various slots.
Brave Writer is also specially designed for homeschooling, involved parents who want the joy and privilege of being the midwives as their children birth language in writing. We don’t just tell you “what to do” (write an informational paragraph – here’s what they look like), we help you understand your unique role in nurturing your child’s inner life and how that corresponds to writing. We support you in identifying your child’s unique writing voice and then helping that voice to emerge through the writing process (freewriting, drafting, revising and editing) – all without the weeping and gnashing of teeth so common to kitchen-table writing programs.
Please post questions! Comments work now. 🙂