Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Why it's neither "homeschooling" nor "home education"

There are a couple of vids here, one of which will not have been released into the wild yet.  The first is a response to yesterday's upload by the lad's ma:


(Thanks again YouTube for that wonderful example of framing).  This is Ceri talking to me about her approach to home ed with her family.  It speaks for itself of course, so WATCH IT NOW!  I sprang the Welsh thing on her but she did well with it, and yes, please remember what Welsh home edders are going through right now and do something about it because it's seriously not on.

The other video comes out of rightful criticism of the titles and vocabulary in my home ed videos, and isn't there yet.  When it is, it'll be here (i hope):



Basically, there's nothing wrong with American English, as it says in the bit under the video, but the actual word "homeschooling" is bad.  Some people seem to be aware of this and have changed it to "unschooling" when they refer to autonomous education with children, which is a whole lot better.  Again, i go into this in the video so i won't here.

However, something i don't cover in it is the issue of American and Commonwealth English.  One problem with the second term, which i use to avoid "British English" because it includes Austral, South African and Indian English, among others, is that the Commonwealth includes Canada, and Canadian English is something of a quandary, being both its own thing and between two stools.  Leaving that aside though, and taking posh London English as one standard and high-class Chicago English as the other, which is fairly close to some kind of reality, there is no particular reason to choose one over the other.  Both have their strengths and weaknesses.  Even so, when a weakness in one dialect starts to leak into the other in either direction, it should probably be resisted, and the word "homeschool" is just such a weakness.  There's also another one which it's far too late to stop:  the "short scale".

Languages which use classical Mediterranean-derived terms to refer to large numbers have two ways of doing it:  the short scale and the long scale.  Many languages, for instance German, simply opt for one and never use the other.  English has historically used both, but the short scale won out in the past couple of decades.  I should explain.  Each step in the series of terms "billion", "trillion", "quadrillion" and so forth represents a multiplication of a thousand in the American scale and of a million in the British.  Hence for a Brit the word quadrillion used to mean 1000000000000000000000000, but to an American it seems always to have meant 1000000000000000.  The discrepancy gets steadily more gigantic as we work up the scale, and as a result American English runs out of words for integers at a much earlier point than British English.  It's far too late to do much about it now, but i have always felt this was a backwards step.  Then again, i don't like the decimal system anyway and there's always Standard Form.

Which reminds me, i'm supposed to be setting astronomy homework, so i'll do that.