Monday, February 25, 2019

The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart - Book Review

We have been homeschooling for 17 years now. I'm familiar with a variety of teaching/learning methods, have attended conventions and classes, tried things in my own little laboratory of home learners, and know that learning can be accomplished in a wide variety of ways. My own continuing education happens on a day by day basis. This winter I decided the next book in my reading list was going to be The Brave Learner (aff) by Julie Bogart.

I love Julie! She's a powerhouse of enthusiasm and encouragement. She heads Brave Writer, a company offering writing curricula, classes, book clubs, and more. We've used several of her writing curricula over the years, and the principles behind them are still in use in our home regularly. An entire new book from Julie? Sign me up!

As I started reading The Brave Learner my experience went something like this:
  • I laughed. 
  • I shook my head.
  • I argued out loud with Julie's book.
  • I loved some of the ideas.
  • I felt conflicted and uncomfortable with some of the ideas. 
  • I thought about them, pushed and pulled them, embraced some ideas and discarded others.
In other words, I took what feels right for my individual family and left behind the parts that do not fit us in this season. Different is a beautiful thing! There are many good ways to learn, teach, and grow. Even if one of Julie's ideas didn't quite fit my family, it often triggered ideas of things that could work for us. 

Some of my favorite things from The Brave Learner:
  • Collaboration - the capacity to partner. I loved this section! When a child says "I want to learn..." Julie suggests you reframe that in your head to "I want to explore...". This makes it clear to you that your child is curious about something and will wander through the topic, but you do not need to come up with formal lessons. Your job is to enjoy the exploration with them. 
  • Another idea under the topic of collaboration was that one way to help us appreciate both collaborative and independent learning is to make a list for each one. What does your child do independently already? What do they collaborate with you to do? Kids are not made to be only independent learners.
  • One last idea that I loved: "There are no educational emergencies." School standards are aimed at moving a large group through a stack of facts/ideas that someone else decided 'everyone' should know at the exact same age. It has it's benefits and limitations. One of the freedoms of homeschooling is stepping off that conveyor belt model and embracing the learning path and speed of each individual child. When we recognize an area in need of work, we adjust course, but we don't need to panic. Even when your student is close to graduation there is no educational emergency. Learning is a lifelong endeavor and there will always be more to learn.  
My first read through of The Brave Learner was relatively quick. Now I plan to reread it slowly, taking time to think about individual children in my home. There is also free printable Companion Guide available, picture notebooking pages with space to journal and work through the ideas in The Brave Learner. Then I will take the ideas and questions that come to mind and bring them along with me to the Brave Learner Conference in July!


  1. I relish a good review and I think you reviewed the book well. Your favorite things are my favorite things about Brave Writer.

    Do you have a list of the best resources that you have used in your homeschool career? like best math curricula? top books? etc.

    1. Hmm, I do not have a post listing best resources yet. I'll have to work on that sometime. Here are my top picks off the cuff:
      Math U See
      The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts from level 4 on up.
      All About Reading
      All About Spelling
      Apologia for middle school and high school science. For elementary science we've liked Apologia and are currently trying some units from The Good and the Beautiful and enjoying them.
      History - reading living books, so many years I have simply made book lists for kids. For history curricula we've enjoyed I would say Beautiful Feet if you like a lot of reading and The Good and the Beautiful if you like a mix of reading and audio.


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