Search This Blog

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Eleven Plus Confidence

I had the privilege of living in Rhodesia – which became Zimbabwe. My grandfather was a farmer. He farmed cattle, tobacco, maize, fruit and wheat.

One of the men who worked for him was from a tribe who had two toes. The middle two toes were not there – and the outer two turned in.

The tribe lived beside in a large rift valley along side the Zambezi River. We grew up believing that the two toed tribe developed because of the need to climb trees very quickly in a remote valley.

One of the major problems this man had was wearing an ordinary pair of shoes. I recall sitting beside him as a child as he made himself new pairs of shoes. He used leather and parts of car tires to fashion comfortable shoes. I enjoyed his company and was delighted with a pair he made for me. I kept the home made shoes for years – but they disappeared when we came to England.

I thought about him today because the tribe developed the two toes because of in-breeding and a rogue chromosome.

I wonder if our eleven plus children will in time become affected and change because of all this exposure to similar Eleven Plus preparation?

If a great majority of children work through NFER and Bond papers – plus all the other Eleven Plus papers available through the internet - then it is likely that many of the children will have covered similar ground. Some children will have studied some subjects in greater depth – so may feel more confident in the actual examination.

I wonder just how accurate the Eleven Plus examinations are if all the examination is doing is selecting children who have been well prepared?

We know in the lessons all over the country children are following different programs of study. When the children arrive home the great network of `parent power’ kicks in. Some children are more willing to work than others. Some parents are more involved in day to day Eleven Plus work than others. So on the day of the examination the playing field is almost level. Some children will have had tutors. Other parents will proudly proclaim that their child will pass, or has passed, without doing a single paper.

But don’t you think that there is simply too much study on too few papers? Don’t you think that selection for the Eleven Plus may be flawed for some children because there is too much reliance on the same types of questions?

There is one county where children only have to study a limited number of verbal reasoning questions. What happens if you a teacher and you try to stimulate your children? Will parent power rein you in and force you to teach to the types of questions that children will meet in the examination?

We are working through one of our pre Christmas Eleven Plus courses today. Today is Day 2. The course ends tomorrow.

A girl I met for the first time on this course called me over this morning. She said: “This is such fun. I have never met questions like some of these today. I can’t wait to show my mum.”

I feel confident for her in the January Kent Eleven Plus Examinations. She will treat challenging questions with joy and enthusiasm. Well done to this girl. I don’t know if she has a tutor – but if she does well done to the tutor too. Congratulations to her school for fostering such a love of learning. Her mum and dad must be very proud parents.

No comments: