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Friday, September 04, 2009

The Eleven Plus and the Number Five!

Tables are a conundrum for some eleven plus children. Should they spend the time learning their tables or should they continue to plough though endless question after question? I worked with an eleven plus child earlier this week who will score almost full marks on the verbal reasoning test but will struggle with the mathematics paper. The ten year old child reached a certain stage on a question where the number thirty seven had to be divided by five.

Quite sensibly she started counting her five times table. She became stuck when she was trying to take the thirty five away from the thirty seven.

Because she is very bright she started trying to work the question out on her fingers. We all know that we have five fingers on one hand. Her problem lay in trying to gain a mental picture of the thirty seven and the thirty five. She tried to take the seven from the five by counting off with her fingers.

There is a rather remote tribe in South America who use a counting system based entirely on the number 5.

Closer to home the Romans used 5 as `V’ and then offered us VI for six and VII for seven and so on. The Romans had their number five and then added 1, 2, 3 or 4 – become needing to think about a `0’.

Perhaps our eleven plus candidate has a true feeling for the number five. She may recall the story of the rabbits. Leonardo of Pisa gave our ancestors this puzzle:

A certain man puts a pair of rabbits in a place surrounded on all sides by a wall.

How many pairs of rabbits can be produced from that pair in a year if every month each pair produces a new pair, which, from the second month, become productive?

Now that would be a fine eleven plus question … Not so?

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