I have recently observed that many comments made here tend to create an Alice in Wonderland air, completely divorced from the real world and quite impossible for any normal, sane person to follow . This tendency has accelerated over the last week or so until the comments to my posts are starting to read like a transcript of conversations which might have taken place at the Mad Hatter's Tea-party. The day before yesterday I posted a quite unexceptionable piece about Michael Gove, speculating on the possibility that he might introduce compulsory registration of home educators. I expressed no opinion either way and simply set out a few quotations of his which might shed light upon this possibility. I might mention here that Ian Dowty said precisely the same thing recently and feels that home educators would be wise to suggest this for themselves, so the actual content of the post could hardly be considered daring or controversial. What sort of response was there?
Well, to begin with a woman in Shropshire is anxious about the possibility that I might once have written under a pseudonym. She says;
' I thought you had written under an assumed name for The Lady?'
What makes this enquiry utterly surreal is that she signs her own comment with a pseudonym. I last wrote regularly for The Lady in the eighties, so let's see if I have this straight. A person who habitually uses a pseudonym in order to conceal her identity is worried that I might have used a pseudonym myself over twenty years ago. Have I got that right? Am I really alone in finding this a little odd? (I think Ms Gerrard at No. 8 knows who we're talking about here!) This is nothing though compared with another person who is concerned that,
'really very little of substance is known about him.'.
This was written by a person about whom we know considerably less of substance, because she chooses not to reveal her name or even her gender! You might find it pretty rich that she should then complain about knowing very little of substance about somebody who has always used his real name and widely publicised both his personal email address and a good deal of information about his life. This Anonymous is also bothered because I apparently, 'like to hint at things about himself which might lead one astray as a first time reader, then says things along the lines of "whatever makes you think I'm..." (e.g., christian). She seems to be saying here that she does not know enough about my religious convictions. What bearing this might have upon home education remains obscure.
What else have we got? I said that at one time in the sixties the Guardian had a strong libertarian streak and used to support the Liberal party, as indeed it did. An angry person responded;
'Ha ha Ha - do you know what Libertarian means? Clearly not. FYI, The Guardian is probably the most pro-State, pro-collectivist newspaper in the UK. It is the antithesis of Libertarian.'
A bit of a rant followed about this. I have no idea at all what the paper is like these days, I have not read it for over thirty years; I made it clear that I was referring to the past. The comments just get madder and madder. Mind you, the above seem as sensible as a dictionary compared with the person who wondered whether William Whitelaw might have been my father. Fathom that one out if you can!
These people all have one thing in common; they are wholly incapable of discussing any topic in a rational or coherent fashion. Few of the comments had anything to do with Michael Gove or even home education in general; some of them sound as though those making them are confused and not entirely in their right minds.
It might be worth bearing in mind that a number of people from both the DfE and also various local authorities read this blog regularly. Reading the comments here has had the effect of hardening their views on increased regulation, because they say that some of those posting give the distinct impression that they are not really fit people to undertake sole responsibility for a child's education. I don't say that I agree with this, but I have to say that friends and colleagues of mine who come on here frequently also tell me that some of the people who comment sound a bit loopy. Still and all, that is hardly my business. If people want to come on here and make complete arses of themselves in that way, it's really nothing to me. I just thought that the people commenting might want to stop and think a little sometimes and consider that they are in fact providing a showcase to the general public of what sort of people home educate. I can't help feeling that some are not very good advertisements for the general quality of home educators.