NHEN Celebrates 3 Year Anniversary
by JJ Ross, EdD
of 1999, the National Home Education Network (NHEN)
officially opened the doors for homeschoolers to join as members. NHEN
has been growing, evolving, and working hard in the homeschooling community
ever since. What better way to celebrate an anniversary than to hear from
sure knew how to get things done in groups.
wife, Sunday School teacher, public employee. Duty. Scheduling. Rules.
by the book, and what big books they were. I grew up in a society so enamored
of group control that private behavior often seemed more regulated than
the first example that comes to mind. The Junior League's written requirements
for delivering, marking, hanging, and tagging thrift shop donations rivaled
the IRS administrative code - and every member in good standing was required
to log a minimum dollar value of donations and work a certain number of
hours in the shop every month, no exceptions, even with a doctor's note.
Officers and committee chairs sat in constant judgment of member compliance,
no less harsh for being sweetly perfumed.
this in painful detail not from Mama's service but because as I was expected
to do, I followed her high-heeled footsteps into that thrift shop and
made those rules my own.
volunteer group, as in the schools and society of that world, detailed
standards were set in stone; to fail and risk one's "good standing" in
the group was unthinkable.
But I can
think about it now, almost smugly in fact! Through no particular cleverness
of my own, I've discovered a better way to make my personal contribution
to society - what I like to call the "affiliated independence" of home
education and its support network NHEN. It has become my family's chosen
what Mama would think of this notion of affiliated independence. Would
she fret that allowing individuals to choose freedom from group controls
is dangerous to the fabric of society? Could she believe that so much
good results even though no one is training us, stabling us, riding us,
feeding us, breeding us, pulling back on the reins one minute and spurring
us into pounding bursts of effort the next?
I'd explain that my favorite thing about the National Home Education Network
is the same thing I love most about homeschooling: its design reflects,
as its function respects, its purpose. NHEN is about encouragement. Individuals
choose what to seek and whether to speak.
exactly what it claims to be, and the amazing part is that the way it
works actually works!
nothing compulsory or controlling about affiliated independence. NHEN
defends self-determination without undermining self-determination to do
it. It is home education for grown-ups, organized connections without
loss of control, a free public resource not subject to use restrictions
or taxes or fees. Its influence is all the greater for never telling its
members or clients or public what to say (or not), what to do (or not),
what to believe (or not).
loosely coupled so it can stay tightly focused.
home education, NHEN is a new kind of "place," existing in the life of
the mind as a safe meeting spot to foster the life of the mind. NHEN belongs
to each individual without any money or obligation exchanged for its purchase.
It belongs completely to its own community, with no need for borders or
ethnocentrism or definitions of who belongs and who cannot. It even belongs
to those who haven't yet joined and who never will join.
home education, NHEN encourages each individual to learn, grow, believe
and contribute as he or she sees fit. In truth, NHEN models my highest
aspirations for education period.
no required training, no handbook, no dress code. No dues to be paid,
in blood or money or self-respect, no litmus test required, to achieve
and maintain one's good standing as provider, supporter, user or appreciator
of NHEN's services.
generation wants something better for its children, then I think the affiliated
independence of NHEN -- and of home education itself -- would qualify.
I think it represents real progress beyond the stifling organizational
pressures that squeezed the joy out of so many group endeavors, including
school, in the world of my youth.
And it pleases
me to believe my mama - after a good look around this new world -- might
think so, too.
Reprinted with permission. ©NHEN