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Monday, August 01, 2011

An Eleven Plus Crusade

Some songs or lyrics just seem to improve with time. There can be few of us who can resist singing the words or humming of tune of `Robin Hood’.

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, with his band of men

Feared by the bad, loved by the good

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood

I am very fortunate to have a copy of the 1927 `Robin Hood’ play by Alfred Noyes – who also wrote the poem, ‘The Highwayman’. This one act play was not particularly written for children – and was not really an adaptation from a novel. One act plays are often used to introduce a young audience to the classics. Plays can be used a reader – but because they are plays they should be acted rather than read. As it is a play we are sometimes encouraged to learn the words by heart. The imagination of all of us can be excited by understanding the important stage entrances and exits – and the movements on the stage. Naturally props play a large part in plays – but there must be an extraordinary difference between the propos used in the 1927 version and the latest BBC television epic.

What does a play give us? It gives us team work and training in speech and drama.

Enter the Knight.

Robin: [standing up] It is our custom sir, since our repast
Is borrowed from the King, to drain one cup
To him, and his return from the Crusade,
Never while bugles ring Thro’ Sherwood, shall forget –
Outlaws: The King!

[All stand except the Knight]

Robin: You did not drink the health, sir Knight.
I hope you hold with Lion Heart.

Knight: Yes I hold with him. But tell me, Lady Marion
When is your bridal day with Robin Hood?

Marion: We shall be wedded when the King comes home.

[Knight rises and removes his helmet, revealing the face of Richard Coeur de Lion.]

Robin: The King!

Outlaws: The King! The King!

Robin: The King comes home from the Crusade!

Here we can see a basic weakness of the eleven plus. Almost any eleven plus teacher or eleven plus parent can write their own eleven plus questions.

Chose one word from List A and one From List B. Taking into account the return of the King from the Crusade, which two words or phrases are most alike?

Your Thesaurus will take you to `Crusade’ `Wage War’

{make war, go on the war path, campaign, open} {active service, take the offensive, invade, engage in hostilities}

When we look at some eleven plus questions we must wonder how the simple use of a Thesaurus can really select children for their academic future? If your child does not answer the question correctly is it:

Your fault: because you did not study your Thesaurus with your child?

Your fault: because you did not read a wide enough range of one act plays with your child?

Your fault: because you did not read `The Highwayman’ with your child?

Your fault: because you allowed your child to watch too much T.V.?

Your fault: because you did not take your child to an eleven plus teacher who would have taught your child about the Crusades?

Your fault: because you bought the wrong eleven plus papers?

Parents really do have the capacity to feel guilty about all sorts of things to do with their children – or is it not `your fault’ at all?

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