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Friday, March 26, 2010

An Eleven Plus Dilemma

A very useful Eleven Plus word is antithetical – this is where two diametrically opposed views come together. On the one hand parents may be inclined to teach their children in the same manner that they were taught at school – and on the other hand there is the understanding that they need to treat their children nicely, positively, cheerfully and lovingly. Naturally some parents will be able to quote positive evidence to maintain that their school days were the best of their lives.

We are offered a rich body of information about the eleven plus along with a wide variety of materials in the form of books, papers and the internet. There are also many experienced and caring eleven plus teachers. But none of this is able to help a parent when a particular method has to be explained to a sceptical child.

Parents know that their child has to be an active participant in learning. But some cruelly spoken words from their child can drive a mother or father wild: “But my teacher does not do it that way.” This is when eleven plus parents feel the need for a `subject specific knowledge of teaching’.

When their child challenges their parents the mother and father feel a heavy burden. They have to teach the process in question correctly because the whole of their child’s academic future may hinge on their explanation. (Or so their guilt ridden conscience tells them.) It does not really matter, at that very moment, that a mother or a father has a sound knowledge of the subject – if the words they are uttering are not the same as those used by `the teacher at school’.

The eleven plus examination can be thought of as a form of scholarship. The best and brightest scholars will pass the eleven plus. Children and their parents may think that teaching and learning towards the eleven plus is a separate universe of learning. But good practice will help a child pass the eleven plus however the topic is taught and learnt.

Parents do not need worry too much about any subversive muttering from their eleven plus child. If their bright and able child is taught a topic in two different ways, and is able to successfully apply these methods in the examination, then a parent has every right to say: “Good, please ask you teacher to explain this again to you. I will also try to understand your method. There is, of course, another way of tackling this – and lets explore this together.”

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