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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Eleven Plus Luck

Do examinations ever get easier?

My 1957 Edition of Diagnosis and Remedial Teaching in Arithmetic by Schonell (Chapter 3) describes the effect of research into curricula and methods and `enlightened’ class room practice.

First Year Addition and subtraction to 10
First year A preparatory year – no formal requirements

Second Year Addition and Subtraction to 99
Addition and Subtraction to 10

Third Year Addition and subtraction to 999, Multiplication and Division to numbers 6
Addition and Subtraction to 99. No Multiplication and Division

These changes to the syllabus occurred around the time the eleven plus was being developed. It was felt then, for example, that long division by two figures required a mental age of 12.

It was also felt that lightening the syllabus did not mean a decline in standards. (Not much change today!)

One important element of the changes was the insistence that `telling’ rules and letting child apply them blindly should be superseded by more use of deductive methods. “Children should see relationships and discover rules for themselves.” (Page 41).

There would need to be big changes in the materials and the curriculum of today’s eleven plus to allow time for seeing relationships and discovering rules. The books with page after page of similar but different verbal reasoning questions would have to give way to materials that encouraged reasoning – and discouraged the effect of drill and repetitive practice. There may not be much appetite for this by all and there may be a reluctance to embrace change.

Think of bright eyed and bush tailed children entering a competitive examination eager to pit their wits and demonstrate aptitude and ability!

Lucky children.

Lucky tutors.

Lucky parents.

Lucky grammar schools!

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