Gone are the days when a parent can say to a child: “If you don’t work hard towards your eleven plus you will become a shop assistant.”
In the first place a person who decides to make a career in a shop has to have certain attributes which are hard to install – namely the ability to withstand the continual wear and tear that comes through contact with customers. A shop assistant who can deal with an aggrieved and angry customer has personal qualities which some eleven plus children may need. After all a child working towards the eleven plus has to feel special – and be cosseted at time by all concerned. (“The eleven plus is such a worry.”) Equally the eleven plus child is only one member of a family so that there can be no banging of doors (Literally as we as figuratively.)
Shop assistants have to be enthusiastic and cheerful – otherwise they will drive their customers away. Eleven plus children also have to be enthusiastic and cheerful otherwise they will drive their parents away. After the link between mother the earth mother and mother the eleven plus teacher can be tenuous.
Finally a little sincerity has to creep into the equation. Parents can be driven to say – with considerable conviction - “As I said before, if you don’t work hard towards your eleven plus you will have to become a shop assistant, but take heed if you do then you must be not only the best possible but the most sincere shop assistant.”
Do we remember a shop assistant who has been courteous and tactful? Very likely on major purchases. It is also likely that we keep well away from the angry and disillusioned. Every time your eleven plus child is friendly and hardworking say a little prayer. After all children under some degree of pressure must need to re charge their batteries – so long as it is not at your expense.
There is not an eleven plus parent in the land who will not display characteristics of patience, perseverance, adaptability, sincerity, courtesy, tactfulness and resistance to pressure at one time or another. They can only hope that their eleven plus children do the same - at one time or another.