Suppose you are a new eleven plus parent and you want to choose between two eleven plus tutors. You will need to set yourself the hypothesis that there is no difference between the tutors. You will need to work from the premise that both tutors will do equally well with your most prized child. You have to make the right choice. (After all there are no second chances in the eleven plus examination.)
You know that the data will be contaminated by your prior knowledge of the tutors. You will have consulted other parents for their opinions on the tutors. You will also know that any advice you are offered will be coloured by the personal experiences of your advisors. You may need to go back a generation or two to find out if the tutors have a consistent track record of success with children in eleven plus examinations.
You also need to know a little bit about the method the tutors use to teach their charges. Does one tutor start on an eleven plus paper or book and work through the questions in the order presented by the paper – or does the tutor try to plot a path towards the examination by looking at strengths and weaknesses – and then devising an eleven plus course. Does the tutor use the same method of teaching regardless of the calibre of the children involved? What do you want? Do you want your child to be taught systematically from papers or do you want your child to have wider variation?
By now parents new to the eleven plus scene will be able to throw up their hands and say: “You just do the best you can with my child.”
But which tutor might your child prefer? Your much loved child may prefer one tutor over another. He or she may work much better for one tutor than another. This factor could throw out all your careful calculations. Do you then ask for two or three trial lessons with each tutor so that your child gets a full flavour of the tutor’s disposition, strengths, weaknesses and attitudes to homework. After all if your child can enjoy a full relationship with one tutor you should be able to feel more secure about his or her willingness to learn.
As a new eleven plus parent you will need to trust the tutor of your choice. After all it is your money and your child. So you start to draw up a form of summary sheet. Naturally you present the sheet in manner much beloved by eleven plus verbal reasoning papers.
There are two tutors. One drives a red car and the other a blue car. One tutor only teaches verbal reasoning. The other tutor teaches verbal reasoning and mathematics. One tutor teaches from papers and the other prefers work sheets. One tutor comes to your house and the other tutor prefers to work from home. One tutor greets your child when the two of you walk into the room. The other tutor ignores your child but does greet you. One tutor sets homework and the other does not. There are two key questions you will need to answer:
Which tutor will your child choose?
The tutor who drives a red car and does not set homework?
Which tutor will you choose?
The tutor who comes to your house and shakes hands with your child?
The whole eleven plus experience can be quite breathtakingly fraught – or you can simply go with the flow.