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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Adding a Challenge to Eleven Plus Tests

Back in 1926 Goodenough suggested a test of mental and perceptual ability.

The test is cheap and easy to administrate. The instructions are remarkably simple. Children were asked to draw three figures: a man, a woman and them selves.

Mental age is worked out by adding a selection of key targets.

Head 1 point
Neck 1 point
Eyes 1 point
Nose 1 point
Mouth 1 point
Hair 1 point

Naturally the more points a child can `draw’ the higher the mental age. This may seem a crude type of test when we look at a one of today’s commercially available nfer tests – but the Goodenough test does demand attention to detail. Some of the present non verbal reasoning tests require children to count little lines and dots. This is like expecting a child to remember to include eyebrows and knobbly knees in a drawing.

If the Goodenough Draw a Man test was to be included in Eleven Plus examinations parents would need to recruit tutors and teachers with strength in drawing.

Pre Eleven Plus children would walk around with sketch books looking for `interesting’ faces to draw. Members of the public would walk around with horse collars – to show that they had the ability to `gurn’. After all no self respecting Eleven Plus child would want to draw a stylised baby face. An unlikely looking gurn would be far more attractive.

Grandparents would know what to give for birthdays and Christmas – a quality sketch book and a selection of suitable pencils. Stationers would welcome the increased sales.

Pictures formerly stuck on the fridge would be retained in folders – as evidence of early artistic ability. (Just in case artistic ability would become a factor in any appeal situation.)

Long neglected maiden aunts – with artistic ability – would be courted by the family. After all the mildly eccentric `Aunty’ would become a valuable commodity in the search for the perfect Eleven Plus Score.

Visits to the National Gallery by families with eleven year old children would double. Children would sit in front of paintings by the masters – looking for inspiration. Families would not visit Paris to go on Disneyland rides – but would sit on the banks of the Seine searching for the perfect face to draw.

Finally just think how an attentive mother could help her child to collect extra points. She could steal a march on other parents by directing her child’s attention to feet. After all the foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments.

Eleven Plus examinations are supposed to challenge and stimulate children. The ability to execute a series of lightening sketches would certainly add another element.

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