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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Steak and the Eleven Plus

A perennial and pressing question that runs through the minds of parents is, “How well will my child do in the eleven plus?” Parents think constantly about the activities and the events that their child will need to work on as the examinations approach. They must also worry about what their child has to give up. Is too much time taken away from studying for the examination?

One key area that seems to need attention is the relationship between parents and their prized candidate. Does love and respect continue on both sides? Relationships between parents and children change all the time as children grown from need to independence. Some find a seismic change in their children after the eleven plus. Mother and father relax. The child feels that some of the pressure is off.

Some children enjoy a very happy relationship with their siblings during the eleven plus year. Some poor second children may have to put up with the cast off of the older one. Some children may even need to `put up with’ slightly dog eared eleven plus papers. The smug confidence from elder brother or sister who did secure a place in a grammar school could pervade and invade many conversations and conversational nuances.

Some children will enjoy a comfortable relationship with their teachers at school. Other children may get on well with a tutor or other figure of support. The role of parents and the significance of the examination will vary from child to child. Some children could receive unqualified support from their teacher at school. Others may be less fortunate. The lives of some may be enhanced by a supportive relation like an aunt or grand father. Other children will have the benefit of the patience and experience of a trusted next door neighbour.

A minority of parents may feel that there is a real need for an esoteric and highly theoretical pre eleven plus structure of work and play. Some children may respond in a positive manner – enjoying feeling conforming and controlled. Other children may respond better with for a more laid back and divergent approach. Some children may appear to be subdued by dogmatic and overbearing parents – but in reality are happy – because that is all they know.

Trying to predict the outcome of an eleven plus examination by looking narrowly at home background and the relationship between parents and their children seems to be doomed to failure. There are simply too many variables that need to be taken into account.

How can there be tension in a family if all are involved in solving an eleven plus conundrum?

An eleven plus family were planning to hold a barbecue. The family grill, however, only help two steaks at a time. Dad announced importantly: “It takes ten minutes to grill one side of this beautiful steak.”

Mum, who never liked to let an eleven plus opportunity pass asked; “What is the shortest amount of time to grill three steaks on both sides?”

Grill one side of two steaks for ten minutes.

Flip over steak number one. Place steak number two to one side. Add steak three to the grill. Grill for ten minutes.

Steak one is now done.

Replace steak two and flip steak three. Grill for ten minutes.

All three steaks are done. Easy?

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