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Saturday, February 02, 2008

How to Pass the Eleven Plus

It is very important that children play and work by rules.

Take for example the rules of Snakes and Ladders.

Players are trying to reach the square numbered 100.

Each player rolls the dice and who ever rolls the highest number goes first.

Play goes in a clockwise direction.

On your turn to play, roll the dice and move your counter forward the same number of squares.

If the counter lands at the foot of the ladder, move it up the ladder. If it lands at the head of the snake then move it down to the tail.

Now what happens when a child tries to change the rules? The adult, or the other children, say: “No, that is not in the rules. If you keep doing that I won’t play any more.”

That is all very well, Rules are rules.

But if the child who wanted to change the rules was merely experimenting with a different version of the game? Should everyone complain bitterly and walk away?

When the first bag-less vacuum cleaner arrived some people embraced it immediately. Others preferred to wait and see.

Many years ago people had to walk in front of a car with a red flag to denote danger. Now cars are perceived as dangerous when the driver is texting or adjusting the sat nav.

So if a child tries to change the rules in an Eleven Plus examination then the answer must be wrong. Incorrect answers could stop the child the chance of passing an eleven plus examination. The eleven year old could be gifted with an unusually bright mind and then denied a place just because his or her mind did not work the same way as that of the examiners.

I watched a nine year old quite recently trying to explain the rules of a three dimensional noughts and crosses game – with four across, four down and four along. He said that this was his invention and he drew model out and then started explaining the game. He had just successfully written a mathematics paper where he coped easily with a number of Level 5 questions. If this boy is held back by the rigours of the Eleven Plus examination then we may be stifling his creativity and imagination. Do we want a grammar school full of conforming children or do we need some with a thirst for adventure?

Why not pull out the snakes and ladders you last played with your child when he or she was four or five years old? See if the family can come up with an acceptable set of rules. Think of the fun. Think of the endeavour. Think of the feeling of accomplishment. Banish any dissenters to the new Snakes and Ladders rules to the T.V.

Surely there must be a place for an examination pass where an eleven year old can show that he or she can think?

After all we must wonder if a grammar school really does need a whole year group of children who are good at answering `best endings of sentences’.

A river always has (trees, rocks, a waterfall, water, a bridge)

What a boring exercise!

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