It may possible, at times, to think of the eleven plus in terms of skills that have to be learnt, then assimilated and finally applied. Many years ago men and women used to be categorised into the groups of the `skilled’ and the `unskilled’. Should an unskilled worker be expected to use a computer in the execution of his or her tasks – and if so does this move a person to skilled? The task could remain unskilled but the recording or the dissemination could be at a different level.
Some skills are acquired manually, some linguistically, others athletically and some are taught and learnt. A nursery school teacher may set out to teach a social skill whereas an eleven plus teacher may want a child to learn how to cope with analogies.
Children usually acquire skills through their parents, society, peers, siblings and society. Most children grow up normally and `pick’ things up along the way. One skill that many parents have struggled with at one time or another is that of tying shoelaces. If parents introduce tying the shoes a little too early then their child may not learn the skill immediately. Pick the right moment and some children find it very easy to follow direct and straightforward instructions.
Wrap one end of the shoe lace over another to form a half knot. Pull the knot tight and then form a loop which you wrap around the other to make a bow. Tighten both ends.
Other children may prefer thinking about rabbits.
"Here's a little rabbit, and here's a great big tree, Watch the little rabbit, run around the tree. Out pops his head, to see what he can see. He made a really big knot around his great big tree."
Of course children living in rural communities will pick up different skills to town dwellers. A nine years old child on a farm can be offered the task of the responsibility of collecting eggs. A nine year old city child may have to go to the shops to buy those eggs. The farm child may feel happy in the hen shed at 5.30 in the morning – but fearful of crossing a busy road at 19.30 to collects some eggs from the little shop around the corner.
There was a mention of analogies earlier on – but analogies come in many guises. Is there a difference between an analogy as part of a verbal reasoning or an analogy as an element within a non verbal exercise? Does the eleven plus child have to learn two separate `analogy’ skills or just one general skill?
By the way, if your child had to learn how to do analogies does this mean that he or she was unskilled previously?