What makes an eleven plus child happy? Answering 34 out of 50 questions correctly on a paper? Playing sport confidently? Having the company of true friends? Enjoying minimal pressure from parents? Being offered, and accepting, a well balanced education at school? The prospect of a good job?
It is possible that some children will be really happy when they can use their talents to help others. After all look at the number of adults we see go into the `caring’ professions. Some adults feel fulfilled by helping others –so why should we think that children do not have the same feelings.
How are the examiners who set the eleven plus examinations going to find children who have a strong desire to build a better society? It must be argued that the eleven plus exists to select children for a grammar school education. We hope that eleven plus preparation encourages children to extend them selves academically, physically and socially.
The present eleven plus examination is not designed to find children who feel empathy and a conscious desire to help others less fortunate. These talents are, however, surely nurtured within the grammar school by a wide variety of well meaning initiatives.
Perhaps some of the answer lies in the old saying: “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.”
Parents can help to nurture a spirit of giving – not only money but time. Some eleven plus children live a bewildering life full of lessons, sport, study and after school activities. How on earth will these children, who have so much to offer, be able to find time to think of others?
Some families are already living the challenge. Perhaps they could share their experiences with the rest of us.