When the builders of the early eleven plus questions were developing their tests (back in the early fifties) some may have been relying heavily on the collected thoughts of Professor E.L. Thorndike. He felt that intelligence was demonstrated in different ways. He postulated mechanical intelligence, social intelligence and abstract intelligence. By mechanical intelligence he meant the ability of a person to work with machines, tools and gadgets. He distinguished social intelligence as being to do with understanding people. Of course abstract intelligence needed to be able to include verbal and non verbal reasoning.
Some eleven plus questions seem to cut across all three disciplines.
“You need to be able to measure exactly four litres from an open hundred litre drum.
All you have is two cans.
Can 1 – 3 litre
Can 2 – 5 litre.
How can you measure the four litres swiftly and accurately?”
At some stage in the eleven plus process your child should be able to answer this question reasonably happily. If a question like this demands high class abstract reasoning skills – how come some adult swill have to be able to think twice to be able to solve the problem?
A mechanically minded adult may build a picture of the cans and be able to visualise the process. A socially minded person may use words and ideas and have the ability to communicate with others about how to solve the problem. The adult with strong abstract skills may be able to reason the problem but not explain it easily and lucidly.
War breaks out in the home. Mum and dad are both highly intelligent people. Their eleven plus child is possibly even brighter.
Each member of the family may see the solution in different ways – and try to explain it in their own words. The end result could be the eleven plus child is simply hoping that mum and dad will just move on. After all it is just an eleven plus question – and certainly not worthy of protracted war.