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Friday, April 01, 2011

An Eleven Plus Camel

There is an old saying: “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.”

Would it be true to say that the eleven plus is an examination developed by compromise?

Compromise is about finding a middle path. A White Russian is not a compromise. Take five ice cubes, one measure of vodka, one measure of Tia Maria, one double cream and three chocolate dragees.

We would expect the mother of an eleven plus child to know the word dragees as being a decoration applied to little cakes or chocolates. If your eleven plus child asked to have the word explained you might say that the word dragee comes from the Greek word tragêmata meaning "sweets, treats".

“Is it like hundreds and thousands?”

“You might say so.”

A degree of compromise has been reached.

“We need to celebrate your reaching 75% on that hard paper. Your mother and I will drink champagne.”

“Please can I have some too – like we had in France when you let me drink some wine mixed with water?”

“No dear, much as we are pleased with you champagne is a drink too good to be mixed with anything – it is best left unadulterated.”

“Dad, that is not true. When Uncle William got married the whole table, except for us kids, drank Back Velvet. You told everyone that Back Velvet was the only way to drink champagne as it is champagne mixed with Guinness.”

“All right, all right, we will compromise. If you reach 75% again on the second paper we will think about it.”

The first person to write an eleven plus test paper was an originator. Much of the rest of the eleven plus practice exercises are adaptations with slight alterations. For a new form of an eleven plus paper to come along we need to have a fresh type of question on the actual eleven plus papers the children will sit.

If this required a worthy educational psychologist to evolve a new fresh look at the present form of some ability tests then we could all rejoice and celebrate. He or she could be offered a month’s holiday a year in a peaceful location where a camel was a necessary form of transport. He or she could also be provided with an unlimited supply of Vodka, Tia Maria, fresh cream, chocolates, ice, Guinness and champagne. The compromise may need to come if we left instructions on how to mix the lot into one super question.

Complete the analogies:

Vodka is to Tia Maria as champagne is to ____________

A camel is to a horse as the eleven plus is to _________________

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