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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Eleven Plus Potential

A man called George B. Leonard remarked once that:

“Teachers are overworked and underpaid. True it is an exacting and exhausting business, this damming up of the flood of human potentialities.”

A bald statement of this nature tells us nothing about the context of his rather unjust words. After all potential is what the eleven plus examination is all about. The potential to pass a competitive examination, the potential to enjoy a grammar school education, the potential to enjoy a challenging university education and the potential to live a happy and fulfilled life.

We do have many advantages when preparing a child for the eleven plus – with the opportunity of unleashing potential. Take the case of a man who wants to reach the other side of the river. He has to build a boat, equip the boat with sails or oars, navigate the current and find a safe landing point.

To achieve this adventure the man had to understand gravity, motion and friction. If a teacher can help a child to understand these three cornerstones – then surely the child has the tools to cope with many aspects of carving out a wholesome life? The child needs to know how to apply the laws of the eleven plus – with out having to understand each and every law in full.

We use an example like this on one of our eleven plus courses. The children are set the problem:

Two guards have to transport three prisoners to the other side of the river. No prisoner can be left on his own without a guard. How do the guards achieve their task?

The solution of course does not involve currents, gravity and friction – but does require a logical approach to solving the problem. We once saw an eleven plus girl solve the problem on the second reading – and give an exquisite and apposite answer.

Her parents and teachers at school had obviously given her every opportunity to release the flood of her potential. What a lucky girl!

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