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Saturday, March 26, 2011

An Eleven Plus Reflection

In the past the admonition, “Man know thyself” was most often attributed to philosophers and theologians. We may need to look back to Socrates for an interpretation of what he meant – but it is possible that his thoughts would be afforded short shrift by many today. Like most things associated with Socrates, however, the phrase `Man know thyself’ was possibly to do with wisdom.

Over the last fifty years technological advances have opened up discussions of the value and nature of tests to far more than to those studying psychology, sociology or education. The eleven plus, for example, is supposed to give valid results – but the tests are only revealing certain aspects of a child’s intellectual make up. An ability test, for example, can not tell us all about a child’s make up.

The eleven plus tests are used to grade children into levels of ability. The same tests can not describe how likely a child is to be an academic or an entrepreneur. The tests can not tell us about a child’s personality. A grammar school, for example, may achieve excellent `A’ level results based on selecting children who can pass tests. The same school may miss out on a few children who could bring a wealth of different attitudes to work and to study.

All the eleven plus tests can do, in their present form, is give us information about a child at a certain point in time. The tests describe a child in terms of Standardised Scores and pass or fail. There is no place for any descriptive information.

An eleven plus child can make a start on the journey to `Know thyself’ by being hard working, understanding of the needs of his or her parents and aware that interaction with teachers at school and all concerned at home is essential.

A number of children working towards the eleven plus must be doing so because they are drawn to fearing failure. Security and reassurance must be pretty high on the agenda of most eleven plus children. We may expect many eleven plus children will `do their best’ when they are nurtured in a climate of consistent rewards.

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