We often tell our children not to stray from the straight and narrow path. We expect all of our children to follow a largely similar path towards the eleven plus.
Parents learn about the examination. (Usually well before their child is born.)
Some years later the reality of the proximity of the examination prompts action.
Parents move home to get onto a bus route to the favoured grammar school.
First child enters nursery.
Parents ask the Nursery Teacher if their child will pass the eleven plus.
Parents ask the Reception Teacher if their child will pass the eleven plus.
Parents ask the First Year Teacher if their child will pass the eleven plus.
Parents adopt a philosophical approach to the question: “Do you think that your child will pass the eleven plus?”
Parents adopt a philosophical approach to the question: “What will you do if your child does not pass the eleven plus?”
At some stage parents start talking in some form of a code. They throw words like `standardised’ around. They talk about their experiences with verbal reasoning papers. They complain about some of the vocabulary in eleven plus verbal reasoning papers. Picture the play ground conversation:
“We found some strange words in the latest verbal reasoning paper. There was one word `groma’ that neither my husband nor I recognised.”
“Was that Question Fourteen in Paper Four?”
“Yes, we knew the question had something to do with angles but we could not work out why groma was not the odd one out.”
“How did you explain the answer?”
“We had to telephone the mother-in-law. She was a teacher, if you remember and she could recall teaching her class about the groma when she was a student teacher. She did say that she does not often use the word.”
“Well, what doe sit mean?”
“Well Grandmother Enid said that a groma is an instrument used by a Roman surveyor to establish straight lines and right angles. As you can imagine it would be almost impossible to build a completely straight road but the Romans used the groma to set the road builders off on the straight path.”
“Oh, so when we are working towards the eleven plus we are really trying to make sure that our children are on the right path?”
“Even so, Grandmother Enid reminded me to try not to deviate too much from the eleven plus syllabus. She told me to keep her grandchild on the straight and narrow. Above all Grandmother Enid exhorted me avoid taking any short cuts.”