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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Eleven Plus Causes and Symptoms

I have just cut the grass. It is Saturday afternoon – a time for all good gardeners to cut the grass. Sunday morning is also a traditional grass cutting time but I don’t like to disturb the neighbours.

The edges of the lawn have developed moss. This is highly disturbing. Moss is a tiny non-flowering plant and what the problem with moss is that it is a symptom not the cause. Every good gardener will immediately point to moss as being a by product of too little fertiliser. We have, however, had a highly unusual year in that many days have been damp. Moss just loves dampness. So it is not just compacted soil or poor drainage but too much rain.

The solution? Well, there are many. Probably first of all we have to scarify and aerate the lawn. Lots of heavy duty spiking will help drainage. We then need to feed the lawn with an autumn lawn food – that has a moss killer. Top dressing also helps.

So as you return from mowing the lawn to your poor child who has spent the last hour bent over an eleven plus paper try to analyse the situation. When you respond to the work your child has done think of the symptom not the cause.

Your child appears to answer back. Symptom or cause? Simply your child may be tired or hungry or bored. You can treat all of these quite easily – rest, food or a change of work.

You question: “Is that all you have done?” Symptom or cause? Simply the work may have been too hard, too easy or just plain boring. You can say: “Well done for trying so hard. What can I do to help? Do you want to talk about it?

So, just as you have used a combination of science, alchemy and theory to treat your grass you need to use a similar combination of thought and instinct to help your child. Pause for a second and ask yourself: “Am I trying to cope with the symptom or the cause?”

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