COLUMN: The truth will always be interpreted differently says Rosemary Westwell of Ely

COLUMN: Rosemary Westwell asks ‘are we really in the Christmas spirit this year?’

COLUMN: Rosemary Westwell asks ‘are we really in the Christmas spirit this year?’ - Credit: Archant

Too many times real circumstances are misrepresented.

It is as if there are two levels of reality, one in which the powers that be share statements and beliefs among themselves that they all subscribe to, no matter what, and a second level of reality in which real people suffer real problems that often remain ignored.

No matter how much evidence is produced to support an opinion and no matter what form this evidence takes; be it in numbers, statements or historical documents, such evidence can never give an absolutely true account.

You don’t believe me? Try reading my 70,000 word PhD thesis. One of the facts that became particularly evident during my nine years of research was that all evidence is suspect.

This is because the truth varies according to the way a person interprets the information. Only the person who creates the data will be able to interpret the data exactly as it was intended to be interpreted.

We should regard all bold statements in the media headlines with suspicion. There may be elements that are true, but there is often a wider picture and many more factors that affect the evidence offered.

A recent headline in the press said ‘thousands of children with special needs are not in school’ followed by ‘official figures show the number of youngsters with special educational needs, plans or statements awaiting school places has more than doubled in just one year – from 1,710 in 2016 to 4,050 in 2017’.

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While these statements are shocking and perfectly believable, and the statistics offered give weight to their credibility, there are other factors that need to be taken into account.

The problem of special needs children getting help inside and outside the classroom has always been a problem. I can remember parents complaining about it in the 1980s.

Understanding about the problems children have has increased considerably and it is only logical that many more children will be diagnosed with identified issues. In addition, as many parents become more knowledgeable about the educational needs of their children, they often elect to educate them at home because they know it would be better for them.

So when I read that Mayor James Palmer supports the combined authority board offering a £40 million pound commercial loan to East Cambridgeshire Trading Company to build houses, I guess I should put aside my own feeling of unease when the advice I was given by my parents, to ‘neither a borrower nor a lender be’, is swept aside.

I could have been reassured to a certain extent if we had been told just how and when the money and accrued interest will be repaid, but would this be expecting too much?