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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Eleven Plus Messages

It is always interesting to think of what words parents could use while trying to motivate their children to do well in the Eleven Plus examinations.

“Well dear, just look back at all your ancestors. They all did well at school. Look at your Uncle, my brother, he is a judge. Your father went to university. You need to work hard too for the honour of the family.”

“No, you do need to read a lot more. We are all readers in our family. Wide reading shows that you have a good character and are well educated. Simply watch less T.V. and do a lot more reading of good books.”

“Your Auntie Cookie sings opera. She started singing very early – even younger that you are now. She worked hard at her singing – and look where she is now. Why can’t you try and be like her?”

“Your father’s brother was a famous swimmer. One day he swam across the Channel. It took him many hours but he never gave up. I never met him but your dad says he was a very nice man. You have to work hard and never give up. Then you will succeed.”

These are all rather lofty aspirations – your child may enjoy something a little more pragmatic.

“If you work hard you will be able to buy a nice car, wear fashionable clothes and go on designer holidays overseas.”

You would not, however, want to tell your children about a horrible man (Tacitus) who lived in Ancient Rome. He said: “To corrupt and be corrupted, is the fashion.”

Without putting your children under too much pressure, you want them to be, at the very least, decent, hard working and un-corruptible.

Mostly, however, you want your child to be normal. So a heartfelt plea to your child to work hard and be good is going to be far more valuable than using contrived and unrealistic motivational words. I am not sure that it will be all that useful to reminding your child about ancestors, character, hard work and not giving up. It is likely that your children will respond more positively to a simpler message.

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