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Monday, February 18, 2008

Eleven Plus Materials (15/02)

Every single person in the whole world has seen one of these before me – but I saw an innovative and exciting product today at our local airport. We are all used to seeing refrigerator cabinets dispensing soft drinks – in all shapes sizes and forms. The cabinets brother is the machine that dispenses all the goodies that children desire but are not allowed. This has the sweets, chocolates and crisps. One of our local leisure centres has a smaller cousin which offers remarkably tasty popcorn for a mere pound.

Standing a little away from the forbidden `fast food’ family was a bright and shining new addition. The items were all seemed to be priced at less than ten pounds – which has a relief. The case seemed to be almost twice as wide as a traditional refrigerated dispenser. I saw too that the product had won the award for the most innovative award presented to BAA in 2007.

By now every reader will know what I am taking about (which in itself must be an unusual event).

Quite simply if you offered the machine a sum of money – and then selected a title you could buy a book without talking to a human being.

One of the major features of chain like Waterstones is that the company seem to employ university students. Some one on the staff will have read a book that you want to but – and you can discuss the book with a fellow human being. This must be good a feature of good recruitment ambitions and training program that recognises the value of repeat customers. As you stand behind the counter in a Waterstones you smile and talk to the customer and listen – and have the time to engage in a dialogue.

All I could do was to take a photograph of the machine. Now the book dispenser did not smile or preen. It did not turn its head slingthly to present the `best’ side. It just wanted my money.

The choice of around thirty books was varied and catholic in taste. I am sorry to say that I did not find one book devoted to the Eleven Plus and Eleven Plus examinations. How on earth are we going to educate and enrich our children if they do not have access to the proper facilities?

I know that Etc has its own online book shop – but we do try to show our telephone number so that customers can contact us and discuss the content of books. After all some parents want a nook of formal tests. Other parents will want a little explanation.

In the lessons we offer our children choice of books and learning materials. Some children choose the `demanding’ books and exercises. Other children seem to prefer to work through exercises that are accompanied by diagrams and explanations.

So when you go to a major bookshop to buy new Eleven Plus materials it is essential that you take your child to allow the candidate to make a selection. We have a remarkably bright Eleven year old who loves to whip through half an exercise from one of the Bond 9 – 10 verbal reasoning exercises before settling down to do her work. When she gets sot the Eleven Plus level book she always looks for the hardest sections. The reason for this is that she loves to stretch her teacher and the loyal assistants. She takes pleasure in watching someone try to solve a problem.

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