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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Factors Affecting Eleven Plus Success

Consider a typical family with two children. One child is a smart eleven plus candidate. The other child is simply different. They both come from the same home. They have the same parents. Why are they different?

I used to read about Gregor Mendel who worked for eight years on varieties of garden peas. This led him to determine the `Mendelian Lays of Inheritance’. He crossbred and inbred varieties of peas. His preoccupation was with pairs of contrasting traits.

He crossed tall peas with short peas.

He crossed wrinkled peas with smooth peas.

He crossed peas with red flowers with peas with yellow flowers.

He crossed green seeds with yellow seeds.

Parents of eleven plus children do not generally have the same opportunity to make a wide number of cross choices when they are considering having their own children. Should a short dad cross with a tall mum? Could a wrinkled dad cross with a smooth mum? Could a dad who preferred red flowers cross with a mum who preferred yellow flowers? All these crosses would have to be made with the sole intention of developing a smart eleven plus child. There could be problems!

Mendel noted certain traits were passed on without alteration. Other traits showed dominance. He crossed, for example tall peas with short peas. The first generation of pea plants all grew to be tall. The peas were then encouraged to self generate. Mendel found that typically there now three tall peas – but one dwarf variety. Being tall thus became a dominant trait while being small was of a recessive nature.

Of course some blending of traits will occur in offspring. We can only presume that the mother of a true eleven plus candidate will be bright. We must presume too that the mother would look for a father capable of producing an eleven plus child. (Unless he had a beautiful body!)

There are many factors affecting the development of an eleven plus child. Inheriting certain traits may or may not play a significant part. If the mother’s brothers were, for example, bald – then it is not likely that the possibility of baldness on the mother’s side would affect future eleven plus performance.

The study of the application of knowledge of heredity is called `eugenics’.

Perhaps some parents may feel that they have to check to see if their prospective partner is eugenically eleven plus enabled. This would encourage the scientific selection of eleven plus candidates.

I pity the poor child if the parents went to such lengths!

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