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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Just a thought. Perhaps even a `pre Eleven Plus’ thought. Sir Cyril Burt, some time ago, had a number of thoughts about parents and children. He tested the intelligence of parents and children – and tried to organise his results.

Professional Group IQ Parents IQ Children

1. Higher professional and administrative 153 120
2. Lower professional, technical and executive 132 115
3. Highly skilled, clerical 117 110
4. Skilled 109 105
5. Semi skilled 98 97
6. Unskilled 87 92
7. Casual 82 89

This table excited lots of different comments. The main one was that because they were average figures for all the groups, there must be considerable overlap between the members of one group and another. Eysenck, back in 1960, said: `The brightest dustman would undoubtedly score much higher than the dullest lawyer, brightest tramp higher than the dullest physician’. He went on to say `if you try to predict a person’s intelligence from knowing his job you would be right more frequently if you were guessing by chance’.

The relevance for the eleven plus is that there was a feeling back in the early 1960s that if you gave a grammar school education to one child, it assumes he or she will remain brighter for the rest of his or her life.

“If we make this assumption, which is clearly implied in such procedures as the 11+ examination, we must be able to show that the I.Q. remains relatively constant from year to year. We hope that the child who has an I.Q. of 120 when he or she goes for the 11+ does not turn out to have one of 80 when he or she leaves grammar school.”

Eysenck went on to say that those who condemn the 11+ on the grounds that a child’s education is not sufficiently settled down by the age of eleven are wrong because prediction does work. He asked for better tests to be evolved that would give better predictive accuracy than the present ones.

Today – nearly fifty years on from Eysenck’s plea for better tests - we find ourselves still involved in preparing children for tests that will contain very similar questions to those in use fifty years ago.

Here is a question from 50 years ago:

S + (piece of furniture) = (building)
S + Table = stable.

We all know of the old idiom `closing the stable door after the horse has bolted’. How many really bright children has the Eleven Plus failed? What has happened to the really bright children in the counties where there is no eleven plus?

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