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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Post Eleven Plus Blues

Some parents burn with a blazing passion at times when the words `Eleven Plus’ come into a conversation. There are a restricted number of places available in the grammar school of their choice and there is lots of competition for those prized seats of learning.

We need to go back to 2136 BC, when a hungry dragon tried to eat the sun. The Emperor of China, and all his people, were terrified.

The dragon took a little bite, then a quarter of the sun – and then a half. Suddenly the whole sun was covered. The Chinese knew what to do. They ran around in the strange light, beat drums, banged gongs and hit wooden ducks. The dragon took fright and ran away.

The sun was saved!

The Emperor, however, was very upset. He ordered his two Imperial Astronomers to be beheaded for failing to warn him of the dragon’s approach.

Of course the astronomers have been awarded an epitaph in the form of a rhyme:

Here lie the bodies of Hsi and Ho,
Whose fate, though sad, was visible;
Being killed because they did not spy
The eclipse which was invisible.

We need to carry this forward a few thousand years.

The Emperor becomes the parent. The astronomers evolve into the Eleven Plus Tutor.

The parent asks: “Will you cover the entire syllabus for the Eleven Plus?”

The tutor answers: “Oh yes!”

After the examination the child storms out to the waiting parent: “There were some questions I could not do!”

The parent confronts the tutor and demands: “Why does my child feel a failure because there were two questions that were impossible to answer?”

The tutor throws up his hands and says:

Here lies the answer to your cross demand,
Your child did his best, so don’t reprimand.
Children are children and they do their best,
I am sure your child is better than the rest!

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