Many years ago John Vaizey wrote: “It is worth spending money on education because it assists the economy.” He was writing in his 1962 book `Education for Tomorrow’ where he also argued that the traditions of leadership, as taught in public schools, was inappropriate in the modern world. He felt that the ideals of personal independence and initiative were becoming outmoded by the realities of twentieth century economics. “Detailed knowledge, research, and a clear recognition of the toughness of the competition are of greater value.”
Many of us will remember the 2010 Channel 4 story that over half of the Tory shadow cabinet had gone to public schools – and a further substantial percentage had attended a grammar school. There may be some parents, however, who would not wish the world of politics onto their children in any way what so ever,
We would probably expect a percentage of aspiring grammar school children to show qualities of leadership. Leadership does not necessarily have to be demonstrated through politics. A leadership role is taken when it involves organising others and making decision. Some of the discussions and arguments over the eleven plus may be children continuing to test their talents against the will of their parents.
Parents can look dispassionately at some of the arguments and wonder if their child is turning into an autocratic leader who may listen to advice but ultimately makes decisions on his or her own. It seems likely, however, that most parents would prefer a democratic leader – who will allow other members of the family to share in the decision-making process. There may be even some parents would prefer their children to approach the eleven plus decision making in the spirit of a coalition.
The ideal eleven plus child, to some, would have:
Strong personal independence
Sympathetic leadership qualities
Good organisational skills
An ability to withstand, at times, the will of the parents
A willingness to share in decision making processes
Pleasant, calm, bright and articulate
Demonstrate an enjoyment of work and a sane temperament.
(No where in this list is there the necessity of becoming a politician.)
If, however, you do feel that you need to offer a little bribe to the list then you will probably remember the following words:
"An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought."
If the occasional bribe should enter the eleven drama then you may care to paraphrase:
"An honest eleven plus child is one who, when he or she is bought, will stay bought."