Would it smell as sweet? I was reminded of this famous Shakespearean line when I read through a fairly recent discussion that, after polling the names of group members’ homeschools, suggested that names might indeed make a difference. More specifically, the concern was that Christian homeschool names might be suspect at non-Christian colleges.
The discussion started with a question from a group member whose daughter wanted to study a specific area of biology. The concern was that a Christian-named homeschool, implying creationist values, might raise eyebrows from those die-hard evolutionists and cause admissions problems. Admittedly I skimmed over the responding posts, which can quickly become voluminous on any topic. My own college experience would say that this was a non-issue, but then this fairly specific question gave way to a more generalized discussion that peaked my curiosity. Once I became curious, I grew pensive regarding this whole issue of names and perceptions. Some questions that grew out of the initial discussion were as follows:
- Where do you use the name—on transcripts? For admin purposes? For retail purposes?
- What words do you include on the transcript? (as an example, does the word “official,” as in xxxx Official Homeschool Transcript, make your homeschool sound more official)? Should you include the word ‘homeschool’? This latter question becomes more relevant in a state like Texas where homeschools are considered private, unaccredited schools.
- Does a name for my homeschool help or hinder? (as one example, one parent shared that he/she ‘talked to several college admission officers about the homeschool transcript. Most were in an agreement that a school name, especially one that is more main stream, gives more weight to your transcript… the more my son’s transcript looked like “public” school kids the better for him. Most big colleges want to compare apples to apples…’)
I had a chance to revisit my own naming process this weekend. We enjoyed the company of another homeschooling family after the kids’ dance recital. The wife/ mother was sharing that their homeschool “went full out,” in her words: she paid to have a logo crafted, and to create a school name. I smiled as it occurred to me that I honestly never gave much more than a fleeting thought to the initial naming of our homeschool.
Our homeschool does have a name. I use it primarily for administrative purposes—registrations, sign-ups and sign-ins, etc. It was the name of a retailer who was going out of business and sending wide distributions of e-mails in the hopes of drumming up some last-minute business. At that time, I thought no further than that it was “catchy;” I liked the play on words between ‘His way home’ and ‘homeschool.’ Hence, our school became His Way Homeschool. Funny, I’m not even sure if my husband or children know that.
One of the reasons that I don’t spend much time with the name of our school is because I work very hard to free myself from the propensity to recreate the public school system at home. I have to constantly remind myself at each turn of what our ultimate goals are here. I want the kids to have a rich experience. School is a part of it, but it’s more about relationships—relationships with the Lord, relationships within the family, relationships with books and with learning. My very nature would make this an unschooling-free zone, but I’m coming into more and more of an understanding that I’m not interested in producing what I see come out of traditional school systems—public or private. My cousin articulated this so much better than I could in this link on changing the culture.
As strange as it might sound, I will allow our children to decide upon the name on their high school diploma—an idea that I heard at a conference. If they want to graduate from His Way Homeschool, great. If they prefer Bullard Preparatory Academy or something more mainstream, so be it. That is a part of their contribution to what has transpired in these years since we’ve begun, and they should feel good about saying that they finished from xxxx high school, just as the traditionally-schooled kids here take great pride in saying that they went to one of the three high schools in our little town. Come to think of it, what is in a name? Two of our local high schools are named after people, and the third is named ‘Memorial’—a memorial to what, I have no idea. But His Way Homeschool, though selected very casually, means something to me after all these years. It keeps me focused on our ultimate goal for our children. It is a reminder to strive for excellence when I would otherwise let fatigue and frustration give way to mediocrity. Finally, it centralizes for me—in three short words—that whole premise of relationship that I spoke of earlier. And yes, His Way Homeschool (or whatever the kids choose) will grace our high school transcript, as much of an in-Jesus’-name-I-dare-the-devil-to-stop-me move as anything else. Ultimately, that’s where our faith has to be. A college administrator might find it too holy or self-righteous. It may not be academic enough. In the natural, it doesn’t say much about our philosophy or learning approach. But, ooooooh, in the spiritual, it says everything. God bless you, my friends. By the way, I’m still curious: what are your homeschool names?