With lots of children being prepared for eleven plus examinations there will, no doubt, be many teachers involved in eleven plus preparation. How do parents know if they have a good one? There must be a rider here – a `good’ teacher for one eleven plus child may not be a `good’ teacher for another.
A few years ago it would have been inconceivable that an eleven plus teacher could be stumped by a question for eleven year olds. A large percentage of children may have been taught using the same books and materials year after year. An eleven plus teacher would know all the eleven plus answers.
An eleven plus child and an eleven plus parent would be able to accept, with complete confidence, that the answer was correct in method and presentation. Today we have a proliferation of eleven plus `experts’ who have the ability and the desire to share their expertise with the rest of us. A common and favoured `modern’ method of disseminating information and papers is through the internet.
Children sometimes bring eleven plus papers they have been working on at home to the lessons. The questions of some of the `older’ and well established eleven plus papers remain fresh – because every eleven plus candidate is different. I sometimes feel witless, however, when challenged by obscure questions from less well known sources.
Teachers need to have interest and enthusiasm for their subject. The `would be’ authors try to transfer their love of the subject to their pupils – and share with a wider audience. Once they are published, in what ever form, they then become experts. We all know that experts need to be listened to. We may not agree with their point of view – but we do need to take their thoughts into account.
Last week we had an honours graduate in English, an A Level student destined for St. Andrews and a Lower Sixth form assistant with 11 GCSE passes – 7 of them at A*. The rest were `A’ grades. A pupil had brought a paper in. I know that the father had an MBA and the mother was a teacher. I was there, rather like the Ghosts of Christmas Past, representing the past, the present and the future.
Even with the answers we could not do one question. None of us could supply the requisite logic. Almost all of us could find a common and plausible solution. Our pupil’s face started looking concerned. As person after person failed, our child’s confidence grew. None of us were concerned with our authority being undermined. We needed a solution.
The ability to set up a comprehensive learning experience is at the heart of eleven plus teaching. The freshness and vitality of the new entrants into the eleven plus area adds a layer of richness that the more mature and established authors can not try to emulate. If there ever were to be any changes to the content and scope of eleven plus work it would be politic to ask the opinions of the `new kids on the block’ – even though we may, at times, question their logic.