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Saturday, September 25, 2010

An Eleven Plus Diversion

The eleven plus examination is not all about adults imparting knowledge – sometimes children gain their revenge. A solemn faced little angel asked me today:

“Think of a four letter common noun that names a tiny animal. Now change the second letter of the noun to the next letter in the alphabet. What larger animal, also four letters long, do you come up with?”

What was I to say? I didn’t have a clue. The question was not in one of the `++++’ books or even the `****’ books. I am not sure if it was a question taken from the `&&&&’ website. Perhaps the question originated from Mrs `????’ who is very successful with her eleven plus candidates.

The beaming face before me urged me to get a clue. I was, however, clueless.

Others joined in. How nice to see a teacher humbled. The single smiling face became a sea of smiles. The suggestions started flying in. Words that were longer than four letters were immediately ridiculed. My puny efforts were mocked.

“Do you want a clue?”

“Yes please.”

“Listen to the question – what is the size of the animal?”

“Sorry – you said tiny.”


“We are all stuck. Please help?”

“It is a tiny animal that starts with the letter `g’ and ends with a `t’.

The suggestions flooded in. The noise and the laughter grew. I still did not have a clue.

“I will have to tell you. The word is gnat.”

A voice piped up. “It can’t be a gnat because a gnat is an insect.”

Our tormentor ignored this specious advice. “And the second word is goat.”

There were cheers of joy.

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