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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Eleven Plus Free Writing

Many children will enter grammar school today thanks to Miss Dora Pym. Miss Pym was a lecturer in the Department of Education at Bristol University. She found that giving students an essay title caused the students to become inhibited in their writing.

She presented her students with a collection of objects – for example a carrot, an ebony elephant and a safety pin – and then asked them to write. The students touched the elephant, smelt the carrot and, presumably, pricked themselves with the safety pin. The ideas then flowed in a different manner to the ideas that came from a given title.

Eleven Plus children would need to be offered the tools of the trade –awareness of the need for careful planning, paragraphs, punctuation, spelling and neat presentation.

This method of stimulating ideas was used as part of the Eleven Plus test in Wiltshire between the years 1947 and 1951.

I bet some of the children who had to write on the topics offered in the recent Kent Eleven Plus tests wished that whoever set the examination had heard of Mrs Dora Pym.

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