Welcome to WHEN
the World Home Education Network

Intro: Optionality has always supported homeschooling, as this represents an alternative to government-controlled education. Of course, there are many different types of education as well as different types of homeschooling, each with varying degrees of endorsement for the Government's grip over society. WHEN, the World Home Education Network doesn't advocate any one specific method, but argues that families should be able to make that choice.

 [ WHEN ]

A. THEN, when it all started

Before WHEN there was THEN, the Third Home Education Network. THEN was formed in anticipation of the Home Education Camp & Conference, held from 22 to 25 March 1993 in Brisbane. At that time, there were calls to establish a Queensland Home Education Association, as an organization that would - among other things - lobby with the Queensland State Government for changes in legislation. THEN warned that there were dangers associated with such a move. In particular, THEN warned that such an association would be prone to portray itself as the sole representative of the interests of all those active in home education in Queensland. THEN deliberately called itself the Third Home Education Network to emphasize that it was by choice only one out of a number of home education networks. Furthermore, THEN sought to take a global perspective, rather than to be active in one specific local area only.

THEN's arguments were supported by Bob Osmak, who had for years headed an organization called the Queensland Homeschool Association. At the above-mentioned conference, THEN's arguments were voiced by Ben Mettes, managing director of Quintessence. Ben's speech at the conference was printed in the March 1993 issue of Quintessence magazine Optionality, advance copies of which were distributed to interested parties prior to the conference. Ben's arguments were also supported by Jo-Anne Beirne, who printed Ben's speech in the following issue of the Australian Homeschool Journal, and by further individuals. As a result, the danger that the conference would set up a Queensland Home Education Association was avoided.

Since that time, THEN has been active in many ways. Over the next two years, THEN distributed over 30 newsletters and papers, containing the views of many different people from around the world. THEN lodged protests against compulsory school with authorities ranging from the Queensland Government to the United Nations. THEN informed media, interest groups and individuals around the world about home education, offering a plethora of views and background material.

But THEN did not seek to become a support group for homeschoolers. There are many local support groups that issue a regular newsletter full of contacts and details about meetings. Instead, THEN presented itself as a network of individuals, support groups and other organizations that would all contribute articles, news items and other information. THEN primarily presented itself as a name under which articles, news and other information could be distributed and included in newsletters and publications by others. The idea was that the name THEN itself would constitute sufficient warning against misguided efforts to organize homeschoolers on an exclusive basis.

As it turned out, few publications decided to carry material under the name THEN. After all, there are only a few publications that focus on home education to start with. But within the small world of homeschoolers, THEN achieved some noteriety and as such THEN achieved its aims. In April 1995, THEN stopped distributing its newsletters and it was decided that THEN would remain dormant until events called for its re-emergence. It was left up to a magazine such as Optionality to further articulate THEN's message.

B. What is WHEN?

Nevertheless, it was felt that the work by THEN should remain accessible, especially to those interested in home education. This is where WHEN comes in. The name WHEN stands for the World Home Education Network and WHEN clearly takes a global perspective. Of course, THEN also took a global perspective, but this perspective is more articulated in the name WHEN. In many respects, WHEN constitutes the logical counterpart of THEN. The main audience of THEN was made up by homeschoolers. THEN chose to concentrate on homeschooling groups, to warn them against the pitfalls of organizing on an exclusive basis. WHEN speaks to a wider audience, if you like the world, informing the general public about home education as an alternative to school. As one homeschooler put it: 'THEN was the time to get our own house in order, but WHEN is the time that home education is more widely accepted?' WHEN children are free to choose was chosen as a slogan that reflects the starting point of a new strategy.

C. Where is WHEN?

WHEN can be found on the Internet at a number of groups and mailing lists, including:
WHEN at Yahoo!
WHEN at Topica

The Optionality Network also carries pages by
WHEN, the World Home Education Network

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