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, Australia. 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. Given the wide diversity of education approaches, some of which took opposite views on some issues, it would be impossible for a single organisation to claim to represent all such approaches without effectively misrepresenting some of these approaches.

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's Optionality Magazine, 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. The table below shows the content of three such papers:

Three compilations of articles distributed by THEN
The Horror of School
(Compilation of articles on the way school operates)
Killed by School
What Curriculum?
Peer Pressure Perils
Choosing Child Activities
The Vision of TV
A disease called Uniformity!
Those disgusting School Uniforms! (later edition)
The Horror of School
School makes Children sick!
Case study: What Attitude is taught at School?


Why Homeschool?
Views on Education

(in which parents each express their reasons for not sending their children to school)
Ben Mettes
Marion Mettes
Carl Watner
Bob Osmak
Edwin Thor
Action Man
Don Paragon
De-Education - the key to society's awakening
Teachings behind School
(Articles on school subjects)
The Rhetoric of Literacy
Learning Language
History: when Facts lie!
Goofy Geography
Mastering Music
About Civilization and Strangulation
Music that breaks the Rules
Improvisation in Music
Standards of Measurement
The new Fluency
The Literacy Debate
The new Insight

Another important work was the compilation of news clippings in the THEN News Report. THEN took many initiatives, participated in conferences and other events, 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 Quintessence's Optionality Magazine to further articulate THEN's message.

Some further relevant work distributed by Quintessence:
      * Articles on science, complementing the series of articles on school subjects:
              Object against Objectivity!
              Why Optionality makes more Sense than Science
              Improvisation versus Order
              The Problem with Science
              The Case against Science
              Science: Truth or Fraud?
              1+1=2? Try again, says Optionality!
      * Raising our Children our Way (an annual newsletter)
      * Papers on behalf of the Integrated Learning Foundation
      * Articles in the series Tales to be told to the Children, including:
              A Children's Tale (1993) and
              John Doolan's Wisdom
      * Articles on Post-compulsory Education, such as:
              Tertiary Education
              How Education corrupts Research.

WHEN, the World Home Education Network

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.

WHEN does issue newsletters from time to time, but the articles in such newsletters can generally also be read in Optionality Magazine and as such they are generally freely available on the WEB. Optionality Magazine also distributes special issues for homeschoolers from time to time.

The points that WHEN advocates are mentioned on the index page. WHEN does not promote any specific home education approach, but instead recognizes that there are many different ways of learning. Each of these ways of learning has specific advantages and disadvantages in specific situations; there is no single way that can be isolated and presented as the best way under all circumstances.

While WHEN promotes home education as an alternative to school, WHEN recognizes the huge diversity in ways of learning, reflected in a range of home education methods that is distincly wider than the range of education methods offered at school.

WHEN rejects efforts to fit home education into the government-controlled system of accreditation and certification. Consequently, the tables below should not be regarded as a complete inventory of home education methods. Instead, they aim to show that there are other ways of learning than government-approved school and homeschooling.

Old ways of Learning

There are many old ways of learning that often predate school. Six examples of such old ways of learning are:

Learning at home
Helping out on the farm
Practice and Repetition
Trial and error
Training at Work
Vocational Training
Observation and listening
Library Studies
Distance Education
Correspondence School
School of the Air (radio)
Telephone teachers
Home Tutors
Parents as Teachers
Visiting Tutors

Apart from the above well-known examples of alternatives to school, homeschooling is increasingly becoming popular. However, the approach of many homeschoolers is often very close to school. Articles such as About Educational Methods and Homeschooling Methods, both issued by Quintessence, describe some more radical approaches. Some of these approaches have become possible due to new technologies such as the Internet, while in some cases the roots of these approaches date back to ancient times. What is clear is that there is wide diversity, even among the approaches that have only recently become popular, as illustrated below:

Some Alternative Approaches

Advocating more freedom of choice in society.
Vision of the Future
Improving your Improvisation
About Educational Methods
Teachings behind School
Un-schooling group
Unschooling list
un_schooling group
unschooling group
Choosing Child Activities
Let's go Beachwalking!

Deschooling Society - Ivan Illich
Imprisoned in the Global Classroom - Ivan Illich
Deschoolers group
De-education - the Key to Society's Awakening
The art of deconstruction and demasking of education as a dictatorial instrument of government control.
Panta Rei homepage
Panta Rei article
Sophism group
Libertaria - where everone is free, where everything is free!
Argues that for education to be free, things like books, pencils and computers should also be free.
See also
Natural Learning
John Holt's Bookstore
Natural Learning
Natural Learning group
The Literacy Debate
- An anti-authoritarian philosophy that advocates a 'laisser faire' approach in education
Laissez-faire group
Argues against a broad, all-encompassing education and instead guides children into areas where they are gifted and talented.
Free Schools
Cedarwood Sudbury School
Schools run by children, who each typically have one vote and appoint teachers and decide on all financial and operational matters, including academic activities and subject matter.
Integrated Learning
Integrated Learning Foundation
Integrated Learning
Learning by Choice
Integrated Learning - the forbidden Alternative
Multimedia Learning
Using TV, video, DVD and computers for educational purposes, usually without teacher supervision
Online Education
This includes webpages with online courses, mailing lists, email assistance, discussion groups and webforums. For some links, see Homeschooling

Some families reject being referred to as homeschoolers, they don't want to see their approach classified or categorized and they reject approval procedures and monitoring by the Government. They don't want to follow any formal educational methods and they reject accreditation programs, examinations and degrees. WHEN likes approaches such as ImproVision, Integrated Learning and Improvisation that reject any official status. But even coining a name for such approaches risks being incapsulated inside the government-controlled education system. This dilemma was discussed earlier in articles by Quintessence, such as:
Break the Chain
        Homeschooling in Queensland
        Homeschooling Methods

In some cases, one can protest against bureaucratic moves without promoting one specific alternative, as was done by Ben Mettes, Quintessence's Managing Director, in his protest against proposals to regulate homeschooling in NSW.

Of course, a letter addressed to a government committee may give the wrong impression of collaboration with and thus acceptance of government intervention. Even WHEN (or rather its former incarnation THEN) felt tempted enough to lodge a case with the United Nations on behalf of homeschoolers. This shows that the border between rejection and collaboration can be vague.

Ideologically, the choice between dictatorship and optionality seems simple. But, in practice, such optionality will manifest itself in various pathways. As discussed in Funding of Schools, issued by Quintessence, there may be new alternatives on the horizon, but to select any one, single pathway as the 'best' one is simply in conflict with the spirit of optionality.

WHEN does carry on the legacy of THEN by warning about the pitfalls of organizing homeschoolers. But WHEN does not see itself as a publisher of articles. WHEN does not see itself as a political lobby group either. WHEN is not a formally organized group and the changes advocated by WHEN are not merely legal changes. Instead, WHEN is a losely-connected network of homeschoolers, homeschooling groups and others who all share the same aims as stated at the index page. WHEN will gladly assist homeschoolers around the world in their efforts to improve the legal status of homeschooling. An example of this is the WHEN submission to the Homeschooling Review in Queensland, Australia, February 2003. In the end, however, the changes advocated by WHEN are cultural changes that impact on society as a whole. Such changes are to occur in the hearts and minds of people, rather than in the letter of the law.

 [ WHEN, the World Home Education Network ]

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