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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Eleven Plus Jargon

The eleven plus is full of technical jargon. Some jargon is necessary because otherwise everything that we read and hear would sound like platitudes. The general public, approaching the eleven plus for the first time, have to learn the significance of terms like `verbal reasoning’. Even these two simple words `verbal’ and `reasoning’ have to be understood, dissected and studied.

A clinical psychologist may well explain `verbal reasoning’ in a different manner to an educational psychologist.

An eleven plus teacher may discuss `verbal reasoning’ using a different vocabulary to a class teacher.

The mother of a successful eleven plus candidate may interpret `verbal reasoning’ differently to a mother in the process of investigating the eleven plus.

The technical language that could be used when defining verbal reasoning – along with the arbitrary definitions – may sometimes appear to unnecessary complex. Yet expertise – whether it be from a head teacher, an examiner or a parent at the school gate – may need to be redefined to allow mutual comprehension.

We take for granted that the `expert’ setting the examination knows and understands the present needs of the local grammar school. There is also a need to have faith in the local eleven plus teachers who have had successful candidates in the past.

We all hope that up to date `modern’ research has been applied to the present eleven plus tests to make sure the intellectual premises the tests are based on are still valid for today’s contemporary eleven plus children.

My anxiety is that the eleven plus is such a defining examination that those responsible should be accountable. If we ask an `expert’ for information or an opinion we need to have confidence in the veracity of what we are told. How we interpret what we hear is up to us – but we do need to feel confident about the sources.

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