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Monday, March 19, 2007

An Open Letter

An Open Letter to all 11+ Children.

Dear Children,

Your parents will have told you never to talk to strangers. There is, however, one man that you should be able to talk to and that is Mr. Andrew Bailey. Mr. Bailey is the Chief Cashier of the Bank of England.

He issued the new £20 note for the `Governor and Company of the Bank of England'.

On the reverse of the notes is a picture of Mr. Adam Smith. Mr. Smith raised questions like:

‘Why do we regard certain actions or intentions with approval and condemn others?’

As you know every eleven plus child has to put up with approval and condemnation at certain times. On one paper that you write a score of 56% is highly regarded. On a different paper, under different conditions, that same score will be roundly condemned.

Naturally you will want to please your parents most of the time. Doing your homework and sitting down to do Eleven Plus work will please your parents - most of the time. But not always. You might choose the wrong time of day, the wrong work or the wrong working conditions. You may be able to argue to your parents that starting on an eleven plus paper at 9.30 on a school night is a laudable action. Your parents, however, may feel that you should be in bed. This could condemn you to a short and sharp discussion. The moral side of the question could be: If you are engaged in serious and wholesome activity should you be castigated and made to feel unwelcome?

There is a picture on the £20 note drawn in great detail. The drawing shows men working on a machine making pins. Men had to do certain jobs on this great machine. There were about eighteen different jobs. One man had to straighten the wire, another had to grind the end and yet another had to make the head. You, being a modern child, have always known about machinery – but think of those men all those years ago. Some will have come to work in a factory from being on a farm Other men will have had little education but will have had to learn new skills.

So when you sit down to your eleven plus papers think of two things. The first is that what you do will be regarded by different people at different times as being either worthy of approval or condemnation. The second is that at some time your life you will have to learn new things. Sometimes you may not enjoy what you have to learn but in the end you have to do the work.

So tonight, before you go to bed, talk about Mr. Bailey and Mr. Smith. Mr. Bailey helped to buy your evening meal. Mr. Smith helped you to understand right and wrong – and the dignity of hard work.

Sweet dreams.


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