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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Eleven Plus Methods

Inherent in any discussion on the eleven plus is the question of propaedeutic fulfilment. Any eleven plus mother and father will know the meaning of the word. This is attention that has to be given to any pre eleven plus work.

When you take your child to a lesson, or when you are working together at home, it is very difficult to quantify the quality and depth of information that your child has garnered over the years. You, and your teacher – if you have one – may (sometimes) expect your child to learn something where the foundations have not yet been firmly established.

For example: expecting your child to be able to do percentages without knowing how to do lowest terms.

At times children will have to make the best of a bad job. They will have to learn a topic without firm roots. Working through a paper from one of the established eleven plus providers can be an essay in frustration for the child and the parents – if each question is taught in isolation. Ideally a question can be tackled with co-operation from various members of the family with the proviso that lots of understanding is offered and accepted.

Mum comes home from work having worked for a full day, and having done some essential food shopping on the way home, is confronted by a mutinous little face puckered up over an eleven plus question. “But Dad says I have to do it another way. My teacher says we should not do it like Dad says. I’m confused. It is not fair.”

Mum’s job, while working on the evening meal and answering a tearful phone call from her best friend (whose husband is in the process of leaving her) has to reconcile the situation.

Dad has to feel that he is not being neglected – and that he still has a part to play. His method is correct – as is the school’s. Someone has to say, diplomatically, that there is room for both methods in the candidate’s brain.

Mum has to feel that she just needs a little time to think without being rushed.

The eleven plus candidate has to have his or her faith in humanity preserved. “Of course you will manage, dear. We have overcome worse problems than these. Be patient with Dad. He is just trying to do his best.”

There is another eleven plus words that all parents know – it is paideia. (We best know the word from encyclopaedia.) Paideia is all to do with instruction and learning. You child will be leaning elements of the eleven plus in ways that are non deliberate and possibly partly unconscious.

If the respected male member of the family should, however, use an unfortunate word while expressing his views on modern education you may need to humour him. You could, for example, offer an eleven plus story:

Remind your husband of the time you poured three drops of chamomile or fennel oil in the bath. Help him to recall how he helped you swish the water around.

Remind him too that the same herbs can be dried and drunk as tea to sooth any symptoms.

The eleven plus moral of the story? There is more than one way to answer an eleven plus question.

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