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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Silly Eleven PLus Questions

More than one of the present games console manufactures has a handy brain development program. Some of the questions are remarkably similar to present eleven plus questions – but they are disguised into rather silly games. What a load of nonsense! Why should an ordinarily intelligent adult want to sit down with a child’s toy in the hope that playing on the device would enhance memory?

Some eleven plus questions, especially in the area of verbal reasoning, are so weak that it seems impossible that the questions can actually predict mental ability.

Teachers in grammar schools must groan in frustration at times when they catch sight of current eleven plus papers. After all, the grammar school has to pick up the pieces. I wonder how many verbal reasoning questions actually predict the ability to work hard, pass examinations and be a diligent and sound member of the school.

Look through your child’s eleven plus verbal reasoning papers and work out why a series of questions on codes would help your child to achieve good `A’ level grades. If you want your child to emulate 007 and drive Aston Martins, then a working knowledge of codes would be useful. After all we understand that MI5 is actively recruiting new spies.

There was some research done years ago that maintained there was a correlation between intelligence and the ability to find a word in a dictionary. The next time you hold a family gathering, give every family member, young and old, the same dictionary. Find a word. Then go on as a family, to try to define what intelligence means. Then compare the winner of the dictionary test against the family’s definition of intelligence. This is probably as reliable a method of predicting future success than some of the questions appearing in past and present eleven plus papers.

The point here is that parents should not take the content of published eleven plus materials as gospel. There is no guarantee that what is found in a practice eleven plus paper will actually appear on the examination paper. If the question did land on the final examination paper then you would need to question the author of the test. Take this question for example: If arm = bsn then what does dog =?

Oh woe is me. What a silly question!

Surely grandmother, who has lived through the blitz, could think of a question more likely to test intelligence. After all, questions like the one highlighted above were devised long before the Second World War – but adopted to find able children for grammar schools. There must be something wrong with theorists behind the present questions found in the eleven plus if the test still have to rely on the dinosaurs of yesteryear.

Parents can change the world. They make money and lose money on shares. They can buy houses and enjoy foreign holidays. Parents can alter the course of history by voting for change. The one thing that parents still accept, with out question, is the very veracity and wholesomeness of the eleven plus examination.

There are only a few grammar schools left. Some parents must look fearfully over their shoulders that their grammar school will sink into the abyss of a school in special measures. Why should parents demand change? After all it worked for them and their generation – so why the need to rock the boat? There may be a very simple answer. Without change `things’ grow older – and some wither and die. Some parents, but not all, like the idea of grammar schools. The proponents of grammar schools would like them for their children and, in time, their grand children.

Who could parents talk to, who could take up the cudgels of change? Who would listen? Change takes place because change is demanded – first of all by a few, then by a stronger voice and then challenges to institutions can effect change. Many years ago the new President of America promised change and started on the course to the White House. He set himself up as a wind of change. He declared that he would alter people’s lives for ever. We wish him well. We hope that one day a statesman will emerge and promise and deliver educational change here in England. He or she may then challenge the very premise of the eleven plus. After all we can all remember some form of a paraphrase of the stirring words: “And who will stand on my right hand, and guard the bridge with me?”

Please include me in if you are brave enough to stand up and be counted. At the very least I do hope we rid ourselves of some very silly questions.

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