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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

An Eleven Plus Explosion

The twenty first century is witnessing an explosion of scientific and technical knowledge – much of it underpinned by the advances in information technology. Children working towards the eleven plus are able to harness some of the advances through on line tests and lessons. Parents can benefit from the ability to communicate and learn about the eleven plus through various social media forms – such as forums, Twitter, Face book and text messages. Underpinning all this activity is the strength of the playground gossip. There can be no better form of communication that a group of parents discussing a topic in those few vital minutes before and after school starts.

Whatever people learn and feel about the eleven plus it is possible that the surface has only been scratched when it come to understanding the complexity of the human brain. When we look at some of the questions that children are faced with it seems possible that some of the authors are still astonishingly ignorant of what actually constitutes ability. We talk about eleven plus ability in verbal reasoning. Is it honestly reduced to the ability to be able to follow a set of instructions? What about the children who grow frustrated by the drill of answering mundane questions? Surely some children should be offered the licence of being able to indulge in flights of fancy? This is not an argument of a posse of eleven plus day dreamers – this is plea on behalf of the gifted and talented children who want and need to be inspired and creative.

Eleven plus children need to approach the examination with a degree of humility. They need to make steady progress and absorb key facts and sequences of operations. Eleven plus children need to reason and to think. Is all of reasoning reduced to: if GREAT MEANS XLYPZ what does LZPY mean?

The final eleven plus result can be affected by emotion, anxiety and even, sometimes, panic. Eleven plus children will respond in many different ways to the pressure of the tests.

If we go back to our school days some of our class mates who were always top of the class may not necessarily have been the adults who were eventually the most successful in later life. They may have been able to please the teacher and pass examinations but may not have been happy in their later life.

“She did her best in the eleven plus and is still happy but driven,”

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