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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Eleven Plus Stress

Anaesthetists have found that visiting the patient the night before an operation, and establishing a relationship, has value in inducing quick and easy anaesthesia on the operating table the next day. The more frightened and upset the patient is, the more difficult it is to induce anaesthesia.

The aesthetic the patient receives is in part a function of the personal relationship between the patient and the doctors. In more simple eleven plus terms we could raise a hypothesis that the more relaxed your child is when he or she enters the examination the more likely that good results will be obtained.

Of course every eleven plus parent knows that when their child has a low stress threshold – with high posterior hypothalamic activity – he or she will react differently to a person with a high stress threshold.

Years ago men used to sort out difference with duels. The protagonists were accompanied by seconds. A doctor was usually in attendance. Some duels were designed to kill each other. In other duels the duellists would take the statutory steps, turn and then fire into the air. Honour would be assuaged. It was considered very bad form for one duellist to shoot to kill while his opponent was firing into the air. It is likely, however, that stress levels rose very high in the seconds leading up to the shots being fired.

I wonder if the doctor had a little chat with each of the duellists? Was he reassuring that the best possible medical assistance was available? Did the doctor say, “Don’t worry, just do your best. There will always be winners and losers. I have faith in you. If anything goes wrong we will be there to pick up the pieces.”

Did a person with low stress levels but lightening responses do better in a life and death situation than a person with high stress levels but with the ability to offer a more measured and contemplative response?

Should eleven plus parents try to help their child the night before an examination by going over key points, or would a brisk walk with the neighbour’s dog help to build an attacking frame of mind?

Would it help if eleven plus parents made the point that the eleven plus was not a matter of life and death? Should their child be reassured that alternative arrangement had already being made?

“You will never go to that school down the road. I would rather do anything. I am so stressed over this. Do you hear that dear? You have to pass.”

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