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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Eleven Plus Questions

I have a friend, Rob Hounsell, who did his final thesis on James Joyce and Ulysses. He was able to understand the stream of consciousness and the apparently rambling sentences. If you take your eleven year old to Dublin you may feel you need to discuss the life and works on one of the world’s most significant authors.

Other parents may be off to Paris. I can remember visiting Pont Neuf as a twenty year old – and sleeping in a bush very close to the bridge. Visitors to Paris will often be reminded that the Pont Neuf was the main high way for foot passengers, and a meeting place for down and outs. Charlatans and street beggars used to mingle with the crowds. One charlatan made a fortune selling an ointment from China which enlarged eyes, decreased the size of the mouth and told fanciful horoscopes.

The Chief of Police asked for the charlatan to be charged and put into prison. He questioned him.

“Mariolo, how do you manage to attract so many people and make so much money?”

“It is easy, Sir. How many people do you think cross the bridge in one day?”

The policeman answered, “From ten to twelve thousand.”

“Well Sir. How many really intelligent people do you suppose there are among them?”

“One hundred,” replied the policeman.

“OK. I will rely on the other nine thousand nine hundred to make my living.”

To some children working through some eleven plus papers must be a bit like bumbling through seemingly unrelated events – as in Ulysses. At other times parents must wonder if encouraging their child to work through hundreds of questions – in the hope of covering some of the questions that may come up in the eleven plus examination – is either a lost art or a bit of a waste of time.

Some eleven plus questions may appear to take rather quaint form.

A train 105 m long passes an eleven plus child at 63 km/h in 6 seconds. How fast is a train 100 m long travelling if it passes the candidate in 5 seconds?

Do you really want your eleven plus child to be able to offer the correct answer, in less than half a minute?

“72 seconds.”

Is a question, of this nature, the work of a rambling mathematical brain or the outpourings of an eleven plus charlatan? Or is this a `really useful’ question?

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