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Friday, August 01, 2008

Eleven Plus Multiple Choice

We listen with great fascination to stories of gamblers. There are the men and women who believe that the `system’ they have developed is good enough to beat the odds.

Our next door neighbour in Zimbabwe was Baron Hercules Robinson of Culcreuch. His castle back in Scotland was very old and very cold. The walls were grey and the countryside was green. As a young man he brought the first ball point pens to Southern Africa. He was a gambler. When he left Arica he gambled in London and Monte Carlo. On one visit to his castle we were regaled with stories about some of his epic games with Omar Sharif.

At one time or another we all try to beat the odds. It could be an unwary traffic light, or an extra five minutes on a parking meter. There is that little part of all of us that wants to beat the system.

Our children learn this before they can walk and talk. It could be a cry for attention when there is nothing wrong at all or even a heartfelt plea for an ice cream when there is no need what so ever for any more sustenance.

One habit we do need to beak in children is the desire to gamble when they are working on multiple choice papers. We tell them over and over again:”Look for the answers that can not possibly be right. Eliminate the obvious red herrings.”

If all else fails teach your children to play bridge over the summer holidays. In bridge the players arrive at a contract – and say how many tricks they hope to win. Money can change hands. You will naturally not mention money with your children – but could play for other commodities. Your child will learn that to gamble (i.e. just guess the answer) is not an attractive way of conducting an exercise. If you guess you are unlikely to win. “If you guess too many answers it is unlikely that you will pass your Eleven Plus.”

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