People have trouble spelling my name. It's the phonetic Spanish form of a very common English name, so many people often assume there is an extra silent H in it. When I was a kid, I got to correct lots of adults about it. There was a point in my life when I really hated the name Christine, because that was what the grown-ups usually wrote. It was mainstream. It was how everyone spelled it. It also was not my name. It reminds me of a line from the first episode of the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The new doctor mispronounces the android Data's name. She is amused that it bothers him. Data tells her, "One is my name, the other is not." Names are important.
I learned it was easier to spell it out after I gave my name rather than have to watch the grown-ups erase their mistake or worse, scribble out the misspelling. Scratching out the H left my name with this odd gap between the C and the other letters. Sometimes the A at the end of my name was a transformed E. I turned this into a game. I could tell who was actually listening to me by watching whether they carefully followed my spelling or just quickly wrote down their own assumption. This is not simply about listening, but about being sensitive to a fellow human being.
This is something that bothers me when I see articles about homeschooling written by journalists and other writers outside the homeschooling community. They can't seem to believe that the word "homeschooling" is correct. In fact, I read one article in a local paper (I apologize, this was a while ago and I misplaced the clipping) where the reporter placed the [sic] symbol after each spelling of homeschooling in a quote he used from a homeschooler's email. The email was written to decline an interview request. The symbol was not used to inform readers, but rather to mock the homeschooler's spelling. It was also used for two words that were mispelled in the email.
I don't deny that there are many of us who are very elitist about spelling. Recent comments to a NY Times magazine article about homeschooling caused many in the homeschooling blog community to throw grammatical stones at the poorly written responses by unenlightened teenagers. Many of those letters were so alike that it was clear they were written as part of a class project. I feel worse that none of these students seemed to take the time to research homeschooling or read other comments from actual homeschoolers instead of simply parroting their class discussion. It is important to understand the opposing view to effectively argue your perspective. I had a hard time believing that many of the students who commented had an opinion. They were simply writing what they thought their teacher wanted to hear.
If I read any article that spells homeschooling as "home schooling" or "home-schooling", I take a deep breath and prepare myself for what will follow. I know the reporter would rather rely on spell-check than pick up an up-to-date dictionary. You don't even need a physical dictionary handy. Here are links online:
The Free Dictionary: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/homeschooling
Oxford Dictionaries: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/homeschooling?region=us
Misspelling something as important as the name tells me that little research was done within the homeschooling community. It tells me an opinion was formed from the onset and the reporter would rather tell readers what he or she thinks they want to hear. And believe me, I understand! It's hard to learn about homeschooling. Homeschoolers are individuals. No two are educating their children in the same way. There is no standard way to do it. It's that freedom that attracted me to it. But try explaining that to a reporter.
I don't mind the misspellings of my name anymore. Now I look to see who can figure it out without me noting the error. Having homeschooled for a while, I know that pointing out mistakes doesn't really teach as much as recognizing and fixing your own mistakes. I'm still waiting for the journalists to learn that.