I used to teach a boy called Graham Bowker. Graham was slightly larger than most of the other children in the class. A lot of other children could read better than Graham. He also found most of mathematics very difficult.
Graham was not very good at games. He had a rather strange way of running. He could run but the gait was rather uncoordinated. His feet sort of turned out and his arms waved all over the place.
Every one liked Graham. His smile was friendly and he would never say any thing offensive. Some of the little girls in his class used to mother him. They would check that he had eaten his midmorning sandwiches. When we changed after games some of the other boys would even help him tie his shoes because he found `left over right, and under’ rather hard to do.
The school had 680 children from Years 3 - 6. Every single child in the school took part on sports day. Every child did two events. The timing was immaculate.
Graham had always come last in every event. He had never won a prize. One of the events he was involved in was the sack race.
We bought Graham his own sack. We showed him how to stick his feet into the corners and run on his toes. This `training’ was started just over three months before sports day. Graham was expected to walk and then run every single afternoon in his sack. Of his own accord he started using his sack at break time.
At first there were jeers and laughter - but Graham kept smiling and kept `training’ Other children wanted to be able to use sacks during play time - but it was explained to them that as it was Graham’s sack he was the only child allowed to use a sack in play time.
Naturally there were several `pre sports day simulations‘. We ran the practice times at exactly the same day of day as the proper sports day. At any given time there were usually three events taking place simultaneously. All the children and all the teachers were aware of the effort Graham had put into the sack race.
On sports day, without any collusion, and simply by chance the whole busy field stopped to watch Graham in his race.
The children had to lie on their sacks and then jump in and run. Graham knew how to put his feet into the corners. He could also run the course without falling over. Well, I will leave it to you to guess what happened.
He didn’t get the first prize. The second prize was also beyond his capability. He did, however, win the third prize.
Every child in the school was given a certificate on the day of attendance. The winners were also given certificates.
Every single child and parent in the school stood and cheered when Graham stepped up for his third prize.
I wonder what happened to Graham. This was many years ago in another country.
You may have some dark moments of worry and concern as the eleven plus examinations come closer. All you can do is provide the tools and the equipment your child will need. A whole lot of the effort in passing the eleven plus is up to your child. He or she has to make a big effort too. Somehow, however laid back your child is, he or she has to do the work. If winning is coming third - good luck to all the Graham’s of this world.