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Monday, April 18, 2011

The Eleven Plus and an Egg and Spoon Race

Eleven Plus children are not born with a full awareness of the examination and all its implications. Consciousness of the examination emerges over a period of time. There may be some children who wake up one morning and declare to the world that they are bone fide eleven plus candidates but awareness for most children will emerge gradually.

It would be nice to think that gaining a more complete understanding of the eleven plus would lead to electrifying and deeply satisfying emotions. “Mum, Dad! I reached 82% on the paper. I am so happy. I just need a few more marks. Thank you! Thank you!”

Other children may find the eleven plus a rather depressing journey. They could experience continual and unjustified nagging from parents. They may feel that they can never ever live up to expectations. “Life is just reading, school, homework, eleven plus, more reading and then bed. I never have time to play. My parents are trying to make me into an adult. I am still a child!”

Most eleven plus children will be somewhere between these two extremes.

Very fortunately bright and able children are more likely to demonstrate early maturity and self understanding. We also hope that the majority of eleven plus children will display emotional stability and a bright social intelligence well ahead of other children of the same age.

Eleven plus children may be ready for self appraisal at a relatively high level. How many of us would be surprised at the ability of an eleven plus child to be able to cope with a discussion on strengths and weakness?

In the actual examination we want the eleven plus child to solve problems and make choices in a mature and thoughtful manner. For some children this is not easy as they are experiencing physiological and emotional changes. Other children may simply need to feel that they are managing a relatively balanced life.

According to Persian mythology at the last day there will be a huge balance as big as the vault of heaven. The two scale pans will be called light and day. In the former all good will be placed. In the latter all that is bad.

This may be a little too heavy a tool to throw at an eleven plus child. “If you get under 82% you go into the bad side of scale. If you are good enough to reach over 82% you jump into the good scale. But remember, you have to reach over 82% to get into a grammar school. If you reach grammar you go into the good scale. If you don’t then I am not sure what to do with you. I am not letting you go to that terrible school that is just down the road”

The eleven plus child does not need to feel that passing the examination is the most important thing in the universe.

Helping a child towards the eleven plus is sometimes like an egg and spoon race. Sometimes you feel you have a good balance. At other times you wonder if you have dropped the pesky egg.

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