One of the frustratingly wonderful aspects of the English language is its seemingly infinite capacity to increase its vocabulary by borrowing words from other tongues. English's rapaciousness for new words is in fact so great that it often swallows up cognates, pressing them each into service without regard for their linguistic kinship. A good example of this process can be seen in the words "renaissance" and "renascence." The latter word is nowadays somewhat obscure, having been largely overshadowed by the former, even though both mean "rebirth." In addition, renaissance has come to be strongly associated with the historical cultural movement begun in Italy in the 14th century and spreading throughout Europe over the course of the next few centuries. This association is so strong that many uses of the word "renaissance" seem to be analogies with the historical capital-R renaissance, thereby implying that the word is a proper noun rather than a common one.
I mention this for the obvious reason that the word "renaissance" as used in "old school renaissance" is often as often as controversial as the term "old school." From what I can tell, many gamers, like many people, look to the Renaissance for their primary understanding of the word and not merely to the Renaissance itself but to the 19th century's conception of it as the origin of the "modern" world. The word thus carries with it connotations of "progress" and moving away from the ignorance of "the Dark Ages." If that is one's understanding of a renaissance, then it's perfectly reasonable to wonder why the old school renaissance seems so hidebound and backward-looking rather than enlightened and experimental.
Of course, the reality is that the Renaissance wasn't a single, monolithic event but rather a series of interrelated ones, spread over many countries and times, united primarily by the foundational role played by a re-evaluation of the arts and sciences of classical antiquity. In some places and times, classical learning served as a spur to develop new arts and sciences, while in others it led to a reversal of changes that had been going on since the fall of Rome. If, for example, you've ever wondered by the English word "doubt" has a silent b, blame fastidious lexicographers who wanted to bring the word more in line with its classical Latin roots. For every genuine advance over medieval learning, there were also outright rejections of such advances, preferring instead the purity of an idealized classical past. Sound familiar?
That's why I've never had a problem with applying the word "renaissance" to the current revival of interest in old school RPGs. The historical Renaissance (and its immediate antecedents in the 9th and 12th centuries) wasn't an unadulterated rejection of the past and all its follies, the first step of the March of Progress on a journey culminating in the glorious perfection of Today. Rather, it was a time of great ferment, as men -- once again -- grappled with the knowledge and insights of their ancestors. For some, it's true, what they saw was evidence that they had surpassed previous generations but others saw evidence of the opposite, that they had fallen so far from the heights of their forefathers that only be imitating them might they hope to raise themselves up from the muck.
And of course those are both extreme views. Most people saw things somewhere in between and proceeded accordingly. My point is simply that, far from being inappropriate, I think what's going on now with regard to old school gaming is indeed a renaissance; it's a rediscovery of the past and it's up to each of us to decide what lessons to learn from it. Like the historical Renaissance, there's no one size fits all solution and to expect such is to misunderstand the nature of cultural revivals. The "problem" in the way that the old school renaissance is perceived is, I think, too narrow a notion of what a renaissance is -- or perhaps too strong an association of the word with a particular interpretation of a particular past historical event.
Had the word "renascence" been used by the old school movement instead, we might avoid the connotations of the word "renaissance," but we'd probably spend no less time trying to explain its meaning than we do now, so very little would have been gained. Consequently, I think it's important to point out from time to time that what's going on in the old school movement is perfectly consonant with the notion of a renaissance, which can just as easily entail a rejection of the present for the excellence of the past as it can by being inspired by the past to create a better future. If history is any guide, both approaches are part and parcel with all renaissances, so why should we expect the OSR to be any different?