Will there ever be a recognised condition called `Eleven Plus Phobia’?
One extreme of this as yet un – acknowledged phobia could be a child saying that he or she simply has no desire to do any eleven plus work. The child’s performance at school could be satisfactory, the intelligence could be high and the social conditions surrounding the child at home could be as ideal as possible. The child simply does not want to do any additional eleven plus work.
The high aspirations of the parents could be blamed – but there would be no evidence what so ever to link aspirations and phobia. It would not take long for the whole family to be involved if a child decided against eleven plus work. Some one in the family would know of a remote uncle or aunt who could be invoked as the `arch deacon of anti academic study’.
Some parents may feel immediately that they are to blame. Are we pushing too hard? Should we back off?
Some parents may also worry that their child could lose the ability to achieve his or her potential. What will lie ahead in the future? Will our child develop into a normal adult? Is university still on? The refusal to do any extra eleven plus work may then become a source of concern to some parents.
Is my child being bullied at school?
How well does my child get on with the teacher?
Is this the right school? Should we move?
Is the problem only to do with the selection process and the eleven plus – or is other work also being rejected out of hand?
Have there been changes of circumstances at home?
Naturally most of these and any other concerns will be rejected immediately and thought of as scare mongering. Just because a ten year old does not want to go to grammar school does not imply that there is anything wrong with parents, school or child. It may be that he or she simply does not want to follow one particular path through school. Some children may also be remarkably unexcited by some of the more mundane and rather artificial eleven plus problems.
The child may simply feel rebellious. The more the parents want their child to pass the examination the more the child pushes and pushes to find the breaking point.
It is certainly not a phobia if a child goes off the eleven plus for a period – because examination preparation can sometimes be a long drawn out process. There must be some degree of conflict in the lives of even the most ideal eleven plus children. Most parents will simply want to minimise disruption and avoid overt coercion.
The panacea or solution? Start early in the preparations. Allow time off for good behaviour. Offer lots of praise – when warranted. In other words most parents will try to help their child feel that he or she is worthy of the examination.