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Friday, January 22, 2010

Eleven Plus Respect

At one time or another we are all going to have to read Barack Obama’s `Dreams From My Father’. There is a moving passage were he writes about his grandfather. There is an interesting section which ends with the words: “And because of his politeness and responsible ways, he became an elder in Kendu and many came to seek his advice.’

Mr. Obama described how before the white people came to his home country each family had their own compound, but they all lived by the laws of the elders. He commented on the role of the elders and maintained that the words of the elders were followed strictly – and that any that disobeyed would have to leave and start anew in another country.

How do eleven plus children respect their elders? Some will work unstintingly with never a cross word. Others will feel aggrieved at the very idea of doing any work. Some parents will be respected others may have to work hard to earn the respect of their children.

I well remember coming to see a doctor with one of my children out of hours on a Sunday morning. I was surprised to be greeted by him as he was not wearing any shoes, he was clearly unshaven and his shirt was hanging out of his trousers. I respected his expertise as he drew the symptoms out of my child. He was extremely patient and he clearly liked children as he immediately struck up a rapport with my decidedly unworldly and miserable child. He was on call – but on call on his terms.

I recently met a head who described the confusion in the staff room when he argued the case for all the male teachers to wear ties. His cogent argument was that children would respect authority – if authority respected children,

Barack Obama commands respect because he personifies responsibility and leadership.

The doctor commanded respect for his expertise and his obvious interest in children.

The head demanded respect because he was prepared to take on the might of the staffroom.

How can parents command respect while eleven plus work is going on? Some will earn respect because of their ability to separate and combine the dual roles of teacher and parent. Other eleven plus parents may, on occasions, need to demand respect – especially if the child forgets that his or her parents are adults, parents and bread earners.

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