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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Eleven Plus Culture

Before the industrial revolution teachers were concerned with `culture'. Children were taught a lot of classical language and literature. The teacher was often a clergyman - and the children were taught at home - or in the public and grammar schools.

Education was, in a sense, `vocational' because it prepared pupils to be `cultured'.

The Eleven Plus, however, is aimed at entry to a grammar school. Every grammar school teacher must hope that their pupils are `cultured'.

In Eleven Plus terms it is possible that culture has something to do with etiquette. A cultured person would have a traditional form of etiquette – and that must have something to do with traditional values.

Selection has to do with guiding children along academic pathways. Future success in potential occupational status becomes important. The whole trend of tests, examinations, tutors, and other selective devices is designed to establish a body of children who have the potential to do well at school.

In the old days teachers were esteemed because they were learned and revered, largely, as wise men and women. The teachers tried to pass on values and attitudes.

If a child leaves a lesson without saying `Thank You’ – this could be simply because the child has come from a strata of society where `Please and Thank You’ are not part of the daily conversation.

Just as a teacher should be able to say thank you to a child after a lesson, so a child should be able to say thank you to the teacher. Is, however, the ability to say please and thank you the mark of a cultured person? As the child grows older, only time will tell.

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