Some of you children seem to approach your eleven plus papers grounded in the theory that your answers are likely to be right. You are at pains to point out that you have sound knowledge of the results of elementary random efforts. If you are not sure of the answer, and you have eliminated any other possible answers, you often find yourself down to the last two answers. One is right and one is wrong.
Your parents have conducted the experiments with the unbiased toss of a corn with you. You know that if you toss a coin enough times it will come out heads about half the time and tails for 50% of the time. You, as an eleven plus pupil, therefore know that you should be able to select the correct answer at least half the time. (This is provided that you have been able to eliminate correctly the other two answers which were set as red herrings.)
Suppose your parents start on some crazed system of reward and punishment with you.
You are given every assistance in learning how to eliminate answers which simply can not be correct. This has been a great help. You are, however, still making elementary mistakes.
Your mother then starts on one of her long and involved lectures. She reminds you once again about the snail. You almost know the story off by heart. You tell the story with your mother:
Mother: Jerk the board as the snail moves along the board.
You: Watch the tentacles withdraw.
Mother: Continue jerking the board.
You: Watch the withdrawal gradually diminish.
Mother: Increase the intensity of the jerks.
You: There is an immediate response by the snail – but repetition is diminished by exposure.
(Allow a period of rest.)
Mother: Start the jerking of the board again.
You: Bit by bit the snail learns to ignore the unwelcome stimulus.
You then turn to your mother and say very patiently.
“Mother if you nag too much I may stop listening. I can not be right all of the time – but I can be right some of the time. You have used the words `repeated elicitation’ too often. I know that logic will prevail – after all I am an eleven plus candidate. It is my right to guess some of the time – and use logic some of the time. After all, Mother, the word reasoning means drawing conclusion from facts. So Mother, we need to set some ground rules:
No more nagging.
Your use of tired and specious arguments must cease.
Respect my ability to guess some answers.
Remember – my ability to reason may be better than yours in some areas.
Above all, please do not stop my pocket money if I get less than 80% on a paper.”