The comments to my post yesterday illustrate neatly a difficulty which I have encountered before when trying to discuss home education rationally with other home educators. I wrote of the possibility that home educated children might be under-represented in universities and professions, perhaps because they lack formal qualifications. I cited some of the few figures available, those from Dudley. It might have been profitable to talk about these figures and ask if they are typical of local authorities. One could also debate the question of whether these statistics are a reliable indicator of the overall position of home education in this country. Perhaps those known to the local authority are less likely to gain qualifications than those who have been home educated since birth? There are many interesting points to look at here. Instead of course, somebody introduced a weird non sequitur, accusing me of believing that many home educated children were in Young Offenders Institutions. This was such a demented observation, that I was left a little taken aback, particularly when another person commenting also claimed to remember my making this suggestion. What on earth could be going on? Why would I ever have said such a mad thing? The answer is of course that I never had; it's just the sort of crazy nonsense that one gets with many home educators.
Back in November 2009, I had posted a rather dull piece, comparing home education to an outlandish hobby. Somebody, the same person who commented yesterday, then said that I believed that home educated children would end up in Young Offenders Institutions. Mud sticks and other people have now evidently been gulled into thinking that this was my own belief! The person who made this completely loopy comment back in 2009, said yesterday that:
'A long time ago, here in this blog, you asserted that Youth Offender institutions would be full of ex-HE'd children because of the poor educations you believed they were getting'
Well not quite, that was what she herself had suggested. She went on to claim that she clearly remembered my making this odd claim. (I assume that this is the same person; there surely cannot be two people commenting here and using the expression, 'languishing in Youth Offender Institutions'?)
Do you see what has happened here? Instead of discussing statistics and their possible significance, we end up talking about a really weird idea that some crank has dreamed up and attributed to me. Whether this was done because the individual concerned thought it a good way to derail any proper debate, or whether she is absolutely cuckoo; I have no idea. A bit of both probably. I have observed this sort of thing happening time and again when people try to talk sensibly about home education. I don't mean just on here, but as a general thing. Rather than look at figures and try to extrapolate or make deductions from them, many of those on the home educating side prefer to fall back on personal attacks of this sort. It helps to distract everybody from the real issues and is very popular with parents. Instead of having to think carefully about statistics and hard sums, they can instead simply cry 'Oh, that Graham Badman, what a bastard!" or 'Ed Balls hates home educators!' or, as in this case 'Simon Webb is so dreadful; he says that our children will all end up in prison!'. Well at least it means that they don't have to think too hard about things.