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Sunday, May 08, 2011

An Eleven Plus Allegory

Here is a thought – instead of dutiful cramming on the Sunday before the eleven plus tests why not take your child to the National Gallery? In Room 18 today I saw the Allegory of Grammar by Laurent de La Hyre. He painted the picture in 1650. Like all the paintings in the gallery a little information pad is fixed to the wall beside the painting. de La Hyre was commenting, I think I read, on the need to have less formal grammar in schools – but to let ideas flourish and grow.

Your child may then find it very helpful to sit down with the right tools (paint, brushes, canvas etc) and paint out an eleven plus allegory. One definition of the word allegory is to represent truth as a fable or a story. Your child could produce a painting to illustrate the journey that will be nearly over – and the life he or she will live in the years after the eleven plus. A little fable or a myth!

In 1948 Marion Richardson wrote `Art and the Child’. She advocated forcefully that children needed to be able express themselves in their art. She also made the point that art seemed to become dull and downgraded as the child progressed through the school. The night before an important examination may represent, to some, potentially a time of peak creative and intellectual performance. (Get them when they are hot!)

Painting may be an important means of healing and discovery and could be both revealing as well as provide an important recording of your child’s feelings and emotions. If you provide your child with large sheets of papers and big brushes - along with huge pots of paint - your child may produce a very different picture to the one where you offered water colours!

Much of the present eleven plus lends itself to be a packaged and formal examination. A little light hearted frivolity may produce starting results.

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