The Eleven Plus is a rather particular examination – in the sense it is one piece of culture that has not been exported all over the world. It is possible that the European Community would have offered opinions on the role of human rights within the circle of the Eleven Plus. In America and other countries in the world, children are not faced with a potentially challenging examination. Why do some parents feel the need push and pull their children to pass the examination?
The Sioux Indians may not have been able to offer opinions on the Eleven Plus – but we may learn something from them. Soon after the fifth birthday brothers and sisters had to learn to avoid eye contact and were never allowed to talk to each other.
“You are a Sioux; you may not talk to your brother. Just leave him alone. Do not look at him.”
Sioux girls play games in preparation for life as a virtuous mother. Contact with males is kept, when possible, to a minimum. Girls had to learn sew, cook and conserve food.
Life was different for boys.
“Mother, one day I will catch a rabbit with my bare hands. I will bring it you.” This is not boasting. This is preparation for a life time of hunting. Boys of course called on spiritual powers to help them to hunt, seek food and fight off intruders or the enemy. Before a boy could show that he was good fighter he had to touch a dangerous enemy in battle.
What happened in the Sioux family was that a boy would bring the best of the kill to his sister. She would do her best to prepare as good a meal as possible for her brother. The family bond was strong.
Some parents must wish for a strong bond within the family as one or another of their children approach the eleven plus. Some children find pressure from siblings hard to deal with.
How often have Eleven Plus mothers had to say to their daughters: “Do not talk to your brother. Leave him alone. Do not look at him. He is working. Stop teasing.”
How often have eleven plus boys said to their mothers; “Don’t worry mum. I will pass. There is nothing to worry about. Please tell her to leave me alone!”