The tutorial system was invented by Socrates. There is a theory about the so called `Socratic Method’ that it sprung from the character of the Greek people, because they loved arguing questioning and dealing with new ideas.
His premise was that it did not make much sense to throw lots of ideas and lessons at people. He thought that it was better to question. The other person had to answer the questions. Socrates did not want to question a person to find out what they did not know – he was attempting to help the person to find their own answers to his questions. His method was to engage a person in a conversation then criticise and discuss the answers and thus lead the person to a positive conclusion.
A number of parents would love to develop elements of the `Socratic’ approach with their own bright Eleven Plus children. Imagine being able to develop a strong relationship with your child that was not dominated by the restraints of a formal pen and paper examination. Imagine being able to spend an hour a week arguing, objecting, defending, counter attacking, discussing and helping your child towards some truth or other.
Surely a full blooded, and carefully prepared, discussion would be of more benefit to our Eleven Plus children than an argument about settling down to complete a full Eleven Plus paper. In an examination we need children who are able to think and reason.
An endless diet of papers – day after day, week after week must surely dull the minds of some children. Other children love the `comfort zone’ of papers. They know what is expected of them. The children know that provided they can reach around 70 – 80% on a paper they can keep their parents motivated and involved.
The next time the major publishers of Eleven Plus papers gather to talk their offerings, I hope they will spare a thought for a paper that demands thinking, discussing, arguing and finding a useful conclusion. It is very difficult to become truly animated about answering a question based on:
One of the (nests, fish, birds) (fell, drove, climbed) out of the (egg, nest, sea).