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Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Eleven Plus and Authority

We sometimes hear, with horror and dismay, about cowboy builders. There is a certain hierarchy about cowboys. A cattleman was the employer of cowboys. As an employer he was responsible for their welfare. He looked after their moral wellbeing as well as their physical comforts.

A cowboy had to respect his employer – and had to trust the owner to be both fair and loyal. A cowboy did not have to trust the cattleman just because a difference in wealth and position.

Cowboys were paid basic wages – but very often were housed and fed. Most importantly – cowboys were usually supplied with their own horses.

Some times a cowboy was responsible to a trail boss. The cowboy would need to report to the trail boss – who would in turn report to the cattleman. Off the trail the cowboy would need to heed the ranch foreman. Often cowboys simply wanted good food, fair wages and an open life.

Of course cowboys were very often footloose or fancy free. If they were dissatisfied they took their wages and left. Quite a few become drifters – with poor health because of hard work and too much drink.

Of course I have no idea where the term `cowboy builder’ came from. Sometimes we use the term loosely and at other times we feel anger and frustration. No one likes to be conned. No one likes to feel their ambitions thwarted. No one likes the feeling of helplessness brought on by deceit and dishonourable actions.

I have never ever heard of a cowboy eleven plus teacher. Of course parents will prefer one eleven plus teacher over another. Naturally one type of personality will appeal more than another. Some will charge more than others. Some teachers will prepare an eleven plus child by going through paper after paper. Other teachers will teach necessary eleven plus skills.

There will be some eleven plus teachers who have the ability to make a child happy, contented and ambitious. These are the teachers who give parents confidence by straight talking and firm leadership. These really special eleven plus teachers need to be appreciated.

It is no secret, however, that the really superior eleven plus teacher is called a mother. Only a mother has the all the skills to be able to bring out the best in a child. Sometimes a mother will be firm, and at other times forgiving. She will always be there! Only a mother has the authority to tell a child to stop moaning and get on with it.

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