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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Eleven Plus Development

Many discussions on the effect of the eleven plus examination on children will be drawn to how ready the children are to take the examination. Years ago Piaget outlined three main stages of thought:

1. Non Operational (Birth to two years) or sensory motor stage;
2. Pre Operational (Two to seven years);
3. a. Operational (Seven to eleven years) stage of concrete operations;
b. Formal Operations (twelve years and over).

Naturally some children will be ahead and others behind.

Stage One describes children who can not answer questions because they do not understand the principles involved.

Stage Two is a transitional stage – with grouping so sometimes answers are correct and on other occasions the children will make mistakes.

Stage Three is for children who give a correct response and show by their explanations that they have a firm grasp of the concepts involved.

Piaget was not writing about the eleven plus – he was born in Switzerland back in 1896 – long before the eleven plus was a twinkle in the eye. What he did do was provide a developmental approach to education – which is very different from the way that our present eleven plus tests look at children.

We naturally presume that most, but not all, of the children sitting purposefully for the eleven plus examination will have reached National Curriculum Level 4 – and some will even cope comfortably with National Curriculum Level Five work.

The link between Piaget and the ever changing National Curriculum must be tenuous.
I wonder, however, if it is possible to presume that some eleven plus questions require children to show that they have developed to the stage that Piaget called `Formal Operations’?

Scientist is to Laboratory as Surgeon is to ……

What about?

The (filly, child, cashier) put the (money, beer, silk) in the (bucket, case, till).

My 1932 `New Standard Encyclopaedia’ describes Teaching as:

The work of teaching offers an attractive career for both men and women. The salary is reasonably good, the hours are not over long, and the holidays are longer than in most occupations.

Not all teachers will agree with these sentiments – even though they are presented as facts in the encyclopaedia. Not all parents will agree with the limits of development argued by Piaget – because, undoubtedly, any true eleven plus candidate will swoop through the stages. Not all eleven plus writers will attempt to offer questions that require explanation – so beloved by Piaget. Some eleven plus questions just require a logical and thoughtful approach.

Find a name in this set of words:

He is just in time.

Don’t you wish that sometimes that some eleven plus questions require a bit more formal thought?

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