The Westgate Homeschool Group started around 18 years ago and operated in that time as a well-established homeschool group. When the organisers stepped down in November 2016, two volunteers took over the administration of the group. For a number of reasons, the “Westgate Homeschool Group” needed to be officially closed, and a new name and organisation created for essentially the same group.
The two volunteers got together and brainstormed. What fantastic names we thought of … “Education Station, The Learning Place, Homeschool Heaven” and so many more. Pages of creative names, none of which seemed quite right at the time. So we stopped, and thought about what we were trying to do. We were, after all, just trying to find a name for a homeschool group. And we realised we loved the name “Westgate Homeschool Group” - it had been around for so long. So we thought we’d take the easy way and just drop the Westgate bit. But just saying “Homeschool Group” sounded weird, so we added the word “The” to make it sound right. And so “The Homeschool Group” became the group's new name.
We were delighted with this. It seemed to be the most simple, real and humble way of saying what the group was all about, without getting too fancy or pretentious – a group for homeschoolers - a homeschool group. And not far from the original name.
Of course calling it “A Homeschool Group” didn't sound quite right. “The Homeschool Group” sounded good. Simple. Sorted.
Trouble is, we just assumed the word “the” would be taken in the way we had intended it. Because the word “the” can be used in two very different ways. As the dictionary explains:
“Emphatic the [pronounced thee]
When we wish to place emphasis on a particular word, we can use "emphatic the" [thee], whether or not the word begins with a consonant or vowel sound.”
“Not Emphatic the [pronounced thu-h]
Used to point forward to a following qualifying or defining clause or phrase.”
If it’s taken the way we didn’t intend - as meaning THE (pronounced THEE) Homeschool Group – like, the one and only, or the best, that’s a whole different thing. That sounds awful and just wrong. Arrogant, assuming and a very different perspective on our intention. If anyone out there has ever thought it means this, that was never our intention. There are many wonderful homeschool groups around. This group is just one of many, all of whom have importance and relevance. We’re not trying to be better or bigger, just trying to serve the needs of the families we meet.
So just to be clear, and for the record, we were absolutely not using emphatic “the” pronounced “thee”. No, no, no. We were using the word “the” as in The Warehouse, or The University of Auckland, or The Lucky Taco, or The Voice, or The Vic. Just a word to complete a name.
So that’s it – that’s the story. It feels sad when we hear it’s been taken or interpreted the wrong way. We humbly ask that the name is taken and used in the spirit with which it was created. Not to be exalted, or arrogant, better than anything or anyone. Just using the word “the” as a means of “pointing forward to a following qualifying or defining clause or phrase” - and not "emphatic". :)