You must sometimes wonder why your eleven plus child seems to have opinions on virtually everything under the sun. I am afraid that the answer lies in history. We may need to blame Quintilian.
It was Quintilian who felt that the ideal orator was a good man skilled in speech. He thought that no other human type was conceivable. (What would he have thought of a morose teenager?)
He pointed out that man is superior to animals in virtue and speech. He broadened this to maintain that distinctive excellence needed eloquence and reason. He felt that the complete man was an orator and that a philosopher, by comparison, was essentially inferior.
He felt that instruction for children must be adapted to the age of the child. He preached that the fact that a subject can not be completely learned is no reason for not teaching it. Quintilian wanted wise teachers to recognise peculiarities of talent and make choices of subject in order to teach the more able effectively. He felt that the gifted, or those good at oratory, needed good all round development.
Today’s parents may, sometimes, be faced with an outspoken eleven plus child. If Quintilian, however, is correct then as soon as a child gets up on his or her soap box - and produces evidence of skills in oratory – we need to take notice.
Let us explore how we can apply Quintilian’s laws to our present day situation.
We need to allow eleven plus children to be able to argue and debate a point.
(We just have to make sure that they do not overwhelm us and win any major points>)
The work we give to eleven plus children must be reasonably fair and appropriate.
(Is this fair? A clock gains three seconds every three quarters of an hour. It is set right at nine thirty one day. What time will the clock show at five thirty on the next day?)
We need to be able offer hard and demanding work.
(We know that we can revise the work closer to the examination.)
We have to be able to recognise and appreciate some bizarre statements.)
(After all we were young once too.)
A good all round education must encompass more than the eleven plus.
(Oh dear. It is so easy for the eleven plus to take over the lives of full families.)
If any child does come up with a good rant – please share it with us. We promise we won’t smile but will respect the oratory with the dignity it deserves.