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Thursday, July 28, 2011

An Eleven Plus Dream

In the 6th Form, many years ago, we had a short lived craze of the Ouija Board. The word `Ouija’ is to do with receiving mysterious messages. We developed a board by cutting out the letters of the alphabet and placing them in sequence in a semicircle on a table.

We then placed an upturned glass in the centre of the table. Each person sitting around the table rested a finger on the glass. The idea was that the glass would move without the benefit of someone controlling the board.

Sometimes just one person would place a finger on the glass. Some people were able to make the glass move while others were less successful.

On our second adventure someone, I think it was one of the girls, brought along a proper board. This was a flat rectangle made of polished wood. There was general agreement that the glass moved more easily.

Like any eighteen year old we were interested in the future. I do not recall questioning the board about how to change or adjust a fan belt. We were also little concerned with how to make pasta.

Around half way through the second section, when we were not sure how and why the glass was moving (there was considerable scepticism) my brain called a halt to my involvement. I can still remember the accusations that were levelled at me in the morning about being a spoil sport and an inferior being.

The use of an Ouija Board came to mind as I listened to two parents, who do not have lessons with us, talking about the difficulty in finding a suitable tutor who was willing to take their child on in preparation for the eleven plus. We know that the `super tutors’ are acknowledged as having almost supernatural powers. It may be possible for some supremely lucky parents to break into the so called magic circle. Other less fortunate parents, and their offspring, have to settle for what amounts to second best.

Eleven Plus parents could ask the board:

Which tutor is going to bring out the best in my child? (Will the glass spell out the name of the favoured one?)

How much work will my child have to do every day? (The Ouija board has letters – not numbers – so parents may have to wait for the glass to spell out a word.)

Is pop corn going to be more nutritious than other fast foods when bribing my child?

If my child complains of toothache after every lesson is he or she grinding his or her teeth at the thought of all that extra work – or is there a real problem?

Do we really need a super tutor or can a concerted family effort do just as well?

And finally we could ask the board: “Is the eleven plus my dream or that of my child?”

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