Search This Blog

Monday, April 04, 2011

Is the Eleven Plus too Specialised?

We presume that one of objectives of education before the age of eleven is to give children as wide a spread of individual interests. In the economy of specialisation within the eleven plus we can not assume that the examiners have the same attitude to education. Some parents may still rely on a single publisher or web site or tutor. Naturally there will be as many exceptions at the other end of the scale. Most of us will fit somewhere between these extremes.

A child may fail the eleven plus by simply having difficulty with a single topic. Suppose mistakes on made on three out of five analogy questions – and a pass at the eleven plus remains a dream – then parents can blame almost every one. A child can not fail on the analogy questions alone, however, as the candidate must have had some difficulty on other questions. The analogy questions may, however, stand out in the parent’s mind. “What went wrong? We did them over and over. Oh dear. I wish we had worked through a few more questions.”

If the eleven plus could be opened up to cover more than a narrow range of topics then possibly we could look at other attributes than reasoning ability. There must be hundreds and thousands of trait differences. Why can’t a willingness to work hard count towards a pass? What about a happy, sunny smile – surely that should rank? We could look at physique. Would a responsible grammar school want us to leave out all the children who do not fit a normal curve of distribution of height and weight?

There are other traits like honesty, energy and aggression which could play a part. Should only honest children be offered a grammar school place?

Then we come to the day dreamer. An aspirant could look with unfocused eyes at a paper while the world goes by. When we are day dreaming, time does not play a big part in consciousness. Do day dreamers go on to become intellectuals? Do day dreamers become inventors? Will a day dreamer ever grow out of day dreaming? What percentage of children in a grammar school should be day dreamers?

Finally we need to come to decision makers. Some forms of industry needs decision makers – as do men and women who go into management, banking and a host of other professions.

The roles of an eleven plus child must change on a day today. On one day a child may be able to do analogies, work enthusiastically and be happy and cheerful. On another day a child may not even think about day dreaming and be able to make decisions and be positive and confident.

Finally, the parents of even plus children must hope that a diet of eleven plus exercises does not force their child’s interests to become stultified and restricted.

No comments: