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Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Eleven Plus and the Moon

Do remember your Lear? In particular the Owl and the Pussy Cat?

They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.

These words came to mind this morning as I was working with a bright, articulate and able boy who sat his eleven plus examinations last year. He stayed on for enrichment lessons because he was determined to do as well as possible. He brought his science books and papers from school and home, and elected to work, today, on the effect of light on planets – and reasons why planets are visible.

When Edward Lear was writing his nonsense verse he would have had little idea that man would one day find water on the moon. Google had a story on the front page telling about a man made substance landing on the moon and sending up a splash of water. The BBC had a different take.

We already know a lot about the moon – that it is a natural satellite of the earth, and is illuminated by the sun. In many religions, and in popular superstition, the lunar cycle was believed to affect many aspects of life, from birth and death, to times when to harvest crops, slaughter livestock and do business and go to war. There must be a place for the moon in eleven plus lore.

Some great mathematician and statistician will no doubt have looked at the position of the moon and the timing of the eleven plus examinations. They must have discovered facts like:

Boys do very well on verbal reasoning papers at the time of the full moon.

Girls are able score full marks on mathematics papers if the examination falls on the date of a full moon.

The evidence must be conclusive.

There may also be evidence that parents are able to work with their children if they too have been touched by a little moonshine. Any self respecting parent will know the effect of moonshine on their dispositions. We are not talking here about the light of the moon shining on upturned faces – but the `moon shine’ distilled in large jars – just as occurred during the Prohibition. Surely two large glasses of 110% moonshine would make any parent calm, relaxed and accepting of any eleven plus notions?

So look out of the window the next time you are intent on working with your child on an eleven plus paper. If the moon is shining then you know three things:

Your child may do well on the papers.
There could be life on the moon.
110% moonshine will surely give you a headache!

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