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Friday, January 02, 2009

Eleven Plus Winners 29/12/08

It is a comforting thought that bright children are more likely to have their opinions changed by factual information than duller ones. It should also make us feel better about our bright children when we think that clever children are likely to be more critical of arguments and are also likely to be more sceptical.

We see this all the time with the TV cooks. When we watch a TV chef in action he or she is trying to teach without lecturing. If a TV chef simply sat in front of a passive audience and declaimed recipes for half an hour we would possibly have a strong urge to switch off. When we are invited to adopt one of the culinary masterpieces made by a celebrity chef, we would probably be more to embrace a recipe if we could also make a contribution.

This leads us to wondering if there is a recipe to latch on to that will help us to change the attitude of some ten year old boys towards work.

We know that an emotional argument will only work once or twice – and then a hint of reserve will creep in. (“How can you do this to me? I am your mother!”)

We know that as adults we need to be able to marshal an array of facts to help us to support any arguments we may be drawn into.

“It is a fact that child can not study effectively if the TV is on.”

“No, fast foods are a treat – they are not a viable alternative.”

“I am not criticising the clothes you are wearing – I am simply commenting that alternative dress may be more appropriate.”

There must still be some situations when you require your child to conform to your rules without question. You may even need to demand obedience where there are penalties for failure to obey your rules. (“If you don’t do what I say, you will not be able to …..”)

There may be times, however, when we want our bright eleven plus children to be non conformists. The idea of a sedated child going purposefully to complete an eleven plus paper seems incongruous in today’s world. If we try to encourage our eleven plus children to conform all the time then we may be excluding them from the possibility of developing their own attitudes and standards. Parents, however, can not expect their children to develop in a ‘Conforming Eleven Plus Manner’ all the time.

Eleven Plus children must be able to see the value in studying and work. They also need to feel that they can challenge their parents and teachers and, at the same time, assert and defend their own views.

To some parents the whole point of doing any extra work with their children towards the eleven plus examinations is an attempt to provide stimulating and interesting work. Parents want their eleven plus child to enjoy the work, take an interest in the subject matter and adopt an open mind.

All this to say: “Children do need to be allowed win sometimes.”

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