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Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Eleven Plus Maze

We often hear the phrase: `Navigating our way through the maze of the Eleven Plus.”

Back in the ninth century Arabs in the Indian Ocean appeared to be the first to use instruments at sea. They measured star altitudes by using a staff – which became a series of wooden tablets on a knotted string. This gave estimates of latitude – and helped navigation.

Many years ago I struggled through the maze at Hampton Court. I can recall the feeling of helplessness as I tried to find either the centre of the maze or the way out. The hedges all looked the same. The people all looked the same. I remember too the shouts from groups as they thought they had discovered the way out.

When Theseus entered the maze he tied one end of a ball of string to a post at the entrance. But we do know that he was given the ball of string by the beautiful Ariadne.

So this is a little warning to fathers of eleven plus children. If you are handed a piece of string during the Eleven Plus year you will need to be especially careful.

You may be asked to take over the navigation of the Eleven Plus. (Leave it to the one who knows.)

You may be asked to slay a Minotaur – half a bull and half a man. (Dangerous Work!)

You may be asked to distinguish between a maze and a labyrinth. (A typical Eleven Plus question.)

You may be asked to solve tricky Non Verbal Reasoning questions. (Not for the faint hearted!)

At times too you may feel `all at sea’ and just long for the comfort of a series of worry beads.

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