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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Eleven Plus and Doctors and Dentists

It is interesting to note the Royal Commission on Doctors and Dentists Remuneration (1958) comment on the attitude towards the recruitment of intelligent working class boys towards professions.

“Medicine would lose immeasurably if the proportion of (middle class) students in the future were to be reduced in favour of precocious children who qualified for subsidies from local authorities and the Sate, purely on the basis of examination results.”

A number of children who are working towards the eleven plus today may aspire towards a future in the medical profession. This is laudable and must be promoted. After all we need good doctors and dentists.

Is it possible that the way some verbal reasoning questions are couched means that bright children are excluded from entrance to grammar school. I was working today with a very bright little girl who was struggling with one type of verbal reasoning question. The manner in which the questions were framed required Use of English rather than reasoning skills.

Strength in verbal reasoning does require strong comprehension and a broad usable vocabulary. Families from middle class background would expect their children to have achieved strong `Use of English’ skills. The families would hope that their homes, relations, schools and neighbourhood would stimulate and encourage good language and usage skills.

Perhaps one day when a fresh look is made at the eleven plus, and the contents of the examination, then time could also be spent on looking at some types of verbal reasoning questions that are revered by today’s eleven plus writers and tutors.

“Off with his head!” – and we all know where comes from!

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