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Saturday, July 02, 2011

A Knotty Eleven Plus Issue

If ever we wished for a peaceful transition from a bright laid back child to a hardworking and serious scholar we may wish to look at a view of R. D. Laing in his works on `Knots’. If we are to expect our eleven plus children to change dramatically, and suddenly become eager little students, we may find that they need to work through many layers of uncertainty, opposition and even possibly fear of the future. Yet children do change over the eleven plus year.

R. D. Laing wrote in 1970:

There is something I don’t know
That I am supposed to know
I don’t know what it is I don’t know
And yet am supposed to know,
And I feel I look stupid
If I seem both not to know it
Therefore, I pretend I know it
This is nerve-wracking since I don’t
Know what I pretend to know
Therefore, I pretend I know everything.

When your child does not read the instructions on how to do a verbal reasoning question – but looks straight at the answers - you may, sometimes, feel an element of frustration. “We have talked about this before. Read the instructions. Read the question and do not try immediately to guess the answer. You may find that you get yourself in knots.”

As you repeat this mantra to your much loved child you may, at times, wonder if you are being ridiculous even contemplating the eleven plus. The whole situation could easily escalate if you child turns to you with a winning smile and maintains: “But we did questions like this last week. I do know what I have to do. Don’t try and mix me up. We have already done this. When you moan at me I just feel knots in my stomach.”

At this stage some parents may feel a slight twinge of irritation. What happens if your child meets a knotty problem in the examination? Will he or she read the question again or just guess at the answer? Do parents have the right to keep on nagging in the hope that they can change the habits of lifetime – or do they accept that sometimes it is not humanly possible? Is it really worth the time and effort or can a mother or father feel confident that their child may make the odd mistake but will generally `pull through’?

T.S. Elliot (1939) had a lot more faith in people and their ability to understand the need for change.

Round and round the circle
Completing the charm
So the knot be unknotted
The cross be uncrossed
The crooked made straight
And the curse be ended.

Perhaps, after all you are needlessly worrying, your child will unravel the knots.

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