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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Eleven Plus Reasoning

Rugby playing boys grammar schools have a very good chance of going on a rugby tour. Some of the Grammar School rugby tours go remote and far flung points of the globe while other rugby masters prefer the comfort of urban life.

I used to go to school in a small town. We had an overnight trip on a train, every other weekend, to play games – cricket, rugby and athletics. The nearest school was an overnight train trip away. The team would travel up on the Friday evening. The opposition would host us for breakfast. We played the game and caught the night train back to our home town again. If you were lucky enough to play in a number of different teams you could travel away twenty times a year.

One evening an Anopheles mosquito flew onto my skin. The mosquito drilled through my skin and started to drink my blood. The mosquito then gave me a little squirt of a parasite and this then slipped into my bloodstream. I did not know about this until the next weekend.

On complaining of feeling unwell I was rushed to hospital. The doctor looked and asked just two or three questions before making a diagnosis. `Did you travel by train last weekend? Do you have a headache and are your muscles sore?’ The train had travelled to my home town through the swamps of Mozambique. Some where along the way the little female mosquito had come on board the train – only to enjoy a tasty meal. (Well I hope the mosquito enjoyed my blood!)

There is one type of malaria that attacks the brain. (Many will argue that I lost my brain years ago.) This particular type moves so quickly that a child can be bitten and be dead by nightfall! The cells multiply quickly so each parasite can multiply itself about forty thousand times! (We know that nine to ten of us a year die from malaria in this country!)

The name `malaria’ comes from Italian for `Bad Air’ - `mal’aria’. The Romans used to believe that poor air was the cause of malaria.

So this is where parents of Eleven Plus children have a problem. Do they leave windows open while their child to studying to maintain a flow of fresh clean air and thus aid studying? Should windows be kept tightly closed so that the home relies on air conditioning and central heating?

Just as in the `old’ days you used to look under beds for monsters and dragon just before putting the lights out it may be necessary as the Eleven Plus grows nearer to look for little buzzing mosquitoes So if you hear a little buzz in the room it may not be a buzz from an electrical appliance – it could be a blood sucking parasite.

I think that it would be a perfectly normal question to put to any Eleven Plus examiner: “Are there mosquitoes in the examination room?” But please remember that if you do ask – and you are then carted off to the nearest asylum - that at the time it seemed to be a logical and serious question.

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