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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Eleven Plus Rewards and Punishments

Way back in 1911 Thorndike stated his `Law of Effect’. In this law he argued that if you keep saying no then it was likely that value of `no’ was diminished. A child or an adult would little by little eliminate the negative effect of no.

He also stated that a positive `spin’ on events would in turn become satisfiers or reinforcers.

We are now in 2008. How much can we believe his ideas?

If we look at young offenders and prison then we know that while a custodial sentence does tend to stop a person repeating the same crime – but it does not necessarily turn a person away from crime.

The great Thorndike would have loved the present Eleven Plus arguments.

Argument One – How we mark

We have teachers who persist in putting a cross beside answers that are incorrect. Other teachers only mark the correct work. They never every put a cross on any work. If something is wrong, the correct answer is written beside the mistake and then explained in detail.

Should a parent, when marking an Eleven Plus paper, just mark the correct answers?

Argument Two – Following up a paper

Your child has just completed an Eleven Plus paper – under pressure and under a time limit – and you want to mark the work.

Should you go through the paper example by example – directly after your child has completes the paper?

Should you mark enough of the paper to establish one or two errors and then go through those – while your child could still be a little fatigued?

Argument Three – The Level of the work

Should you start with easy work and build up in little steps so that your child feels good and positive about the Eleven Plus?

Should you mix easy work with challenging work to try to keep stimulating and provoking?

Argument Four – To Enter or not to Enter

The school have said that your child is not Eleven Plus material. Should you enter to `Give your child a chance’, or should you try to find the best available local school?

In the whole discussion parents and teachers today are almost universally united about how to deal with undesirable behaviour: “Oh! Leave it out!”

To some children working on an Eleven Plus course must, at times, be a frustrating and unpleasant experience. The same work to other children would, in turn, be a delight and a highly satisfactory experience.

Some verbal reasoning questions involve work on antonyms. Is then the opposite of reward a punishment, or are there several shades of grey?

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