Would a largely informal teaching session with an eleven plus child develop a child who is able to think divergently? Would it be also likely that a formal lesson, from a formidable eleven plus teacher, helps a child think in a convergent manner in the examination?
It is possible that any results of a major investigation into the effectiveness of eleven plus teaching would be largely inconclusive. Having said that there must be a reason why some eleven plus children do very well under one form of teaching.
In recent years the traditional picture of an eleven plus teacher arriving on a bicycle to teach a lesson - with a basket of books on the front handlebar – may have been superseded by an image of a savvy child surrounded by eleven plus videos, on line tests, computers, ipads and the like. Does the teacher with a basket get better results than a teacher who arrives with a wireless enabled laptop?
Once parents have made their choice about the combination they are going to use when preparing for the eleven they are not so concerned about good teachers versus bad teachers. After all their eleven plus child at times may need a firm hand – and other times the freedom to think, plan and scheme. Some parents may prefer a deep rooted formality in the lessons – others will hope for a freewheeling informal approach.
There must, however, be a striking difference between a child who is a receptive but passive learner when compared with a child who is prepared to `self initiate’ the learning process.
We can look back on our own educational experiences – and some of us may feel that a formal approach to eleven plus teaching is rather like the classrooms of yester year. A divergent approach to some eleven plus questions may prove wildly successful because the child feels that he or she can be adventurous and inspired. The `Eleven Plus Factory’ is then not turning out page and question turners – but lively and engaged children.