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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mums and Dads sometimes worry about the speed that their children are answering questions. It could be useful to look back at the work down in 1957 by Schonell. (Diagnosis and Remedial Teaching in Arithmetic – Oliver and Boyd) The Schonells were immensely important in their day because of their original and ground breaking work.

The relevance for today is because their heyday was around the time the eleven plus was being established. They explained in a fresh manner the reasons why general intelligence was an important factor in determining success in arithmetic.

“We no longer set the bulk of our pupils of 9 – 10 advanced problems requiring a mental age of 11 to 12 years, and examination papers for the selection of pupils for secondary schools no longer contain the unfamiliar problems that caused difficulty to the teachers themselves.” (Schonell, Page 7 in my 1958 Impression.)

In some areas in England the eleven plus has been moved to September to allow the Authority to mark papers and give out results. Parents can choose their schools for their children on the basis of published eleven plus results. To pass the eleven plus comfortably children writing mathematics papers do need to be able to calculate at an age of 11 to 12 years.

Eleven plus parents will understand the reasons why general intelligence contributes towards ability in solving problems. Sample eleven plus papers, however, sometimes contain material that has not yet been taught at school. How then is a child supposed to be able to answer the problems – much less do the work quickly and confidently?

If children are pushed too quickly through eleven plus work they can, sometimes, lose a little confidence. No wonder their work slows down at times.

A great problem with the eleven plus is that it is an examination that some children `have’ to pass. If the eleven plus existed to broaden the experience of children before their move to secondary school then it would be possible to allow our bright children to develop in their own time. Sadly a host of bright children have to rise to the occasion on the same day at exactly the same time.

A slight hesitation on a question that has been covered in a lesson, or on a sample paper, or through the hands of a capable teacher and especially by fond parents, then timing can be compromised. Some bright children just love to solve problems. A nice juicy little problem, where the answer is tantalisingly close, could help to cause the clock to run down.

Eleven Plus Mums and Dads will recall Chris de Burgh’s `Timing is Everything’.

“Just like when you are finally near the lover of your dreams,

And as you stand there waiting she turns and walks away,

And you discover that timing is everything,

You’ve got to get it right, timing is everything in life.”

As you tuck your prize eleven plus candidate into bed, sing the words in your favoured Chris de Burgh voice. Then settle down to explain the meaning of the words. You might be surprised by your child’s response.

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