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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Eleven Plus Chains

Every now and then we encourage our Eleven Plus children to learn in chains. Picture the scene rows and rows of poor children all chained together learning and studying. (Little slaves to the Eleven Plus!)

It is relatively easy to learn to ride a bicycle with the stabilisers on – but it is more complex for the child when there are just two wheels. (As easy as learning to ride a bike.)

A chain is carrying out a set of instructions in a particular order. Before your child can carry out the steps of the chain you have to make sure that he or she is confident of each of the links. You could run into difficulty if one of the links was loose or poorly taught.

One type of training is called `Progressive Training’. This is where you teach a series of steps. You start with the first step and then the next and then the next.

A more familiar type of learning to most parents and adults is `Rote Learning’. This is where tables are learnt `by heart’. The child works though a number of examples and commits the method of approaching the problem to memory.

The third type is `Retrogressive Training’. This is where the chain is acquired working backwards. Anyone treading this who has worked through some Eleven Plus problems will have suggested the need to start at the end of the problem and work backwards.

Four times a number is four less than a number which is ten more than thirty. What is the number?

The advantage of solving a problem by the retrogressive method is that you can keep motivation high. It will remain a novel and interesting method of solving problems.

So when you were teaching your Eleven Plus hope to ride a bike – you may have reduced the out riggers very gradually until he or she was cycling on his or her own. The other method was simply to remove the outriggers and provide lots and lots of verbal and physical support.

If you are expecting your child to do well in the Eleven Plus examinations, and you are relying on Progressive Training, then you are setting your child up for a fall. After all if you remove one link, then you may have provided a recipe for disaster.

The problem with learning chains by rote is that chains can easily be forgotten.

In fact you are probably going to be teaching your child using a combination of all three methods.

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