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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Eleven Plus Cowboys

We have a rather romantic image of the cowboy. He lived on horseback.

He fought on horseback too – rather like the knights of old.

He fought with guns and had a strange sense of chivalry. He could often shoot with both hands.

He was gracious to ladies, reserved with strangers, generous to friends and brutal to his enemies.

He belonged to a certain time and place. His time has gone for ever. We can, however, remember him fondly.

It is likely that some of us have a fond recollection of the Eleven Plus. Some readers will remember passing the examination when they were young. Others will be grateful for the fact that they failed the examination – and still made something of themselves.

They will remember the verbal reasoning questions. (Dry is to wet and smooth is to ….)

They will still be able to do some of the more unfulfilled eleven plus questions – do you remember the one about a car leaving London and travelling at 60 mph, while different car left Birmingham travelling at 40 mph? (The question was what time did they cross.)

We can look back today at figures like John Wayne and James Stewart with affection. They epitomised the cowboy.

Perhaps one day our great grand children will look back at the Eleven Plus examination with the same affection and exasperation. One day the eleven plus examination will change. Change is inevitable. The rather self important eleven plus figures of today will fade into memory.

I can’t wait for a fresh look at the whole premise of the eleven plus. There should be new ideas on selection. A fresh approach to what type of pupils will benefit most from an academic education in the grammar schools. Instead of the self conscious images on the front of some of the eleven plus books we will have an image of John Wayne raising his hand and riding into the sunset. As the credits come up we will know that the next episode will manifest itself with elements of the new and fresh approach to eleven plus selection.

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