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Thursday, October 22, 2009

An Eleven Plus Tale

It is Thursday today. This is a highly significant day in the annals of the eleven plus. It was on a Thursday, many aeons ago, that a girl was working towards her eleven plus. She did her mathematics conscientiously and worked hard at her verbal and non verbal reasoning. Her parents were very proud of her but worried that she was working so hard.

“What can we do to help?” asked the mother anxiously.

The bright and willing girl replied, “You have given me everything. I am so grateful. I am fine. Just let me do one more paper and then I will go to bed.”

That night, as she was going to sleep a fairy god mother spirited into the bedroom and asked: “What can we do to help?”

The girl was sleepy; after all she had completed three full papers that day, and murmured, “It would be wonderful if I could answer every question correctly.”

The fairy waved her glittering wand and vowed; “Tomorrow you will not need to worry. You will find the papers easy.”

The girl slipped happily into sleep. She felt secure in the knowledge that a promise is a promise.

She woke the next morning refreshed and ready for work. Her parents were astounded to see her skip down the stairs and chat merrily without any grumpy one word answers.
School was over, and the girl returned home. She hugged her anxious parents, agreed to a glass of milk, nibbled a piece of cold cod from the fridge (brain food you know) and ran singing up the stairs.

Her pencil flew over the papers. She had never felt better about her eleven plus and her prospects. The time went by in a flash. She even forgot to complain about the noise her little brother was making. She ran down stairs to her parents with her papers and the answers in her hand.

Her parents were sitting side by side on the couch in the lounge. They had sat their holding hands for comfort during the entire time their daughter had been upstairs working. To their everlasting joy every single answer was correct. There was no rubbing out or evidence of second thought. They were so proud of their daughter.

They turned to each other and said together: “I wish ..” They stopped and laughed. Two minds with but one thought. There turned to their daughter and asked her what they could do to help.

The girl was mindful of the fairy’s ability to deliver promises. She knew in her heart that she had had a warning.

Life was never going to be easy. She had to be sensible about the work she did. There was no need to overdo anything.

Time went by. She passed her eleven plus. She went to grammar school and then to university. She married and had two fine children. Her eldest daughter was due to take her eleven plus. Her eldest daughter was hard working and keen. One day her daughter turned to her and said: “I wish.”

The mother held up her hand to stop her daughter completing the wish. She knew in her heart that the last thing that was needed in the journey towards the eleven plus was pressure and an anxious face. She hugged her daughter, secure in the knowledge that the wheel had turned a full circle.

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