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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Is Our Present Eleven Plus Syllabus Too Narrow?

“The eleven plus examination, as it stands at the moment, is an `ism’ not an `ology’. Discuss.”

This is one of the questions that prospective eleven plus parents will have to pass before submitting their children to the stresses and strains of the eleven plus. “Antidisestablishmentarianism”, for example, is an `ism’ – as is magnetism but Kidology and Physiology are `ologys’.

Eleven plusism implies a belief in the eleven plus and what it stands for while eleven plusology is to do with the study of the eleven plus – as well as the study by children and parents within the eleven plus.

Our eleven plus children are subjected to the `ology’ side of the eleven plus – because this is to do with studying a particular branch of knowledge – where every thing is limited towards the examination. It is no good studying something of interest outside of eleven plus work because it won’t come up in the examination.

The ologys are not completely finite. Skills learnt in verbal reasoning exercises may sometimes be carried across into non verbal reading exercises.

Eleven plus `isms’, however have the power to be able to lead parents into realms far beyond the remit of the examination. Big Brotherism is an example of an ism that transcends taste while tribalism leads to thoughts of football crowds.

If we see or hear the word criticism in connection with the eleven plus we think immediately of parents worrying that they are not doing enough for their child. If criticism comes into a child’s vocabulary we must surmise that the child is feeling despondent about the attitude of his or her parents.

Some parents may choose, when possible, not to involve their children so deeply in the eleven plus to the exclusion of other activities. It may be better to shun the ism side of the eleven plus and go for a much wider ology.

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