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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Magic of the Eleven Plus

Some of us will remember the romantic legend of Charles Atlas. The story goes that he was a rather skinny young man on the beach when he had sand kicked in his face by brawnier brutes. He developed a system using weights and pulleys to build his muscles. Subsequent advertisements showed him having sand kicked his face – but working hard on his body and growing to where at least two beautiful girls followed his every word and movement.

There must be an eleven plus equivalent. What about a child, not all that good at school, sometimes ridiculed by his or her classmates, thought to be a `dimmie’ - and not the most popular person in the classroom or playground?

Along comes the equivalent of a fairy godmother who galvanises the child into feeling good. The child begins to flower and develop. Work becomes more than a panacea – it becomes almost an obsession. The new attitude is recognised and rewarded by the teacher. The child is urged into the top groups. New friends are enjoyed.

The eleven plus becomes possible. Both parents are overwhelmed with gratitude. They can not stop singing the praises. Their child’s education and intellectual integrity have been saved. Grammar and university awaits.

Many of us would wish we knew that magic ingredient!

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