“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” ~Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

“Olivia” (Twelfth Night) by E.B. Leighton (1887), public domain

We love Shakespeare in spring, and we continue our tradition of offering the study of a Shakespearean play at this time of year. In the past, we have studied Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Macbeth, Merchant of Venice, and Romeo & Juliet. This spring we will delve into the world of the Shakespearean romantic comedy with an up-close-and-personal study of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Students who have previously taken our Literary Analysis courses of Shakespeare’s plays will find new and interesting points of discussion in this course centered on the hilarious romantic love triangle among Duke Orsino, Lady Olivia, and Viola (who is disguised as Orsino’s page, Cesario). Throw in a shipwreck, look-alike twins, a madcap trick on Olivia’s stodgy butler, and memorable characters, and you’ve got all the elements of a rollicking four-week study!

In this course intended for students working at the high school level, Susanne Barrett, MA in English and former university instructor, will lead the class in reviewing the pertinent facts about Shakespeare’s life and times, the Elizabethan theater scene, the language of Shakespeare’s poetry and plays, and the background sources of Twelfth Night. Then we will read and discuss the play act by act, pondering plot, characters, motifs and themes, use of language, and symbolism.

We'll close the class with a final writing project on a topic of students’ choice.

All in all, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night will be an enjoyable challenge for students working at the high school level.

Important Note: In Brave Writer, we read a wide range of essays and literature that address a wide variety of perspectives and that include time-bound references. Please be aware that you may experience strong reactions to what you read. In choosing to include a variety of literary selections, we open the door to big juicy conversations that contribute to the greater dialogue about racism, sexism, classism and socioeconomic differences, and other prejudices held in the past and, in some quarters, to this day. By using literature as a teaching tool to foster understanding and growth, we have the opportunity to discuss these evolving ideologies.

We encourage you to pre-read books and essays to determine their appropriateness for your family and to prepare to have discussions on these topics with your students as they participate in the class.

For more information about how the classes are run, please read about online classes.

To explore our Brave Writer classroom, click here to access a sample class.

Class Structure Description #

Brave Writer online classes are specially designed with the busy homeschooling parent in mind. Classes last anywhere from four to six weeks. We offer courses that address a specific writing need so that you can take the ones that suit your family throughout the school year. Short class sessions enable you to work around family vacations, out-of-town swim meets, recovering from wisdom teeth removal, and visits from grandparents. We operate on the quarter system, including a summer session. Our most popular classes repeat each quarter, while others are seasonal.

Our classes meet in a customized online classroom, designed specifically to meet the needs of Brave Writer. Only registered students and the instructor have access to the classroom to ensure your privacy. Assignments and reading materials are posted by Brave Writer instructors each week (no additional supply fees necessary, unless otherwise indicated). Either you (homeschooling parent) or your child (homeschooling student) will visit the classroom daily at your convenience to read helpful information about the current topic or to find the writing assignment. We operate "asynchronously" (which means that the discussion is not live, but that posted information remains available to you in your time zone at your convenience). Instructors check the classroom throughout the day to answer questions and give feedback on writing.

Writing is done at home and then typed into the classroom, and shared with both the instructor and other classmates. You're not required to be online at any specific time of the day. We have students from all over the world participating in our classes so "live" discussion is impossible. Instead, the online classroom enables the instructor to post information and assignments when it is convenient to the instructor. Then, when it is convenient for you, you come to the classroom and read the latest postings.

Instructor feedback to student writing is offered for all participants to read. Writing questions are welcomed and encouraged! That's the point of class. We aim to give you immediate support as you face writing obstacles.

Brave Writer takes seriously the need for encouragement and emotional safety in writing. No student is ever at risk of being humiliated or mistreated. All online dialog is respectful and supportive of your child's process. This is the core of Brave Writer philosophy. You can read about Brave Writer values here.

What makes our program especially unique in the world of online education is that we value a corporate experience. Rather than teaching your child in a tutorial format, we prefer students to have the opportunity to both publish their work for an audience (other students) and also to have the chance to read other student writing. In no other setting is this possible. Schools-in-buildings rarely have students read each other's work. Homeschooled children are rarely in a classroom environment to begin with, so the opportunity to read peer-writing is nil.

Our classes provide an utterly unique experience in the world of writing instruction. Since most writers grow through emulation of good writing, it is a real advantage to Brave Writer kids to get the chance to read the writing of their fellow home-educated peers. They love it! They get to examine and internalize other ways of writing, analyzing and expressing ideas similar to their own. They have the chance to validate and cheer on their peers. And of course, the best part of all is that they receive the praise and affirmation of kids just like them.

Not only that, all instructor feedback is posted to the classroom for all students to read. That means your kids get the benefit of instructor comments on many papers, not just their own. We've noted that this style of instruction is especially effective and hope you'll agree!

To explore our Brave Writer classroom, click here to access a sample class.