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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Eleven Plus Long Division

If you ever thought that your child was a `brave little soldier’ to work through all those eleven plus papers, think of how some parents from other countries treat their children.

In 1835 Gardiner visited the Zulu. He found them using an ingenious method for setting broken arms. The arm, with the hand open and the fingers spread, was placed in a hole. The hole was then partially filled with clay. Members of the family, and friends, then lifted the `patient’ out of the hole. The arm was then wrapped in a secure splint of back. What price the labour and pain of an eleven plus paper?

Some African cultures, used to believe in the talents of `healers’. There were two kinds – the healers who used herbal medicine to set a broken arm, for example. The same healer could also call on the benefit of Priest-diviners who would be able to explain how some one in the family had been upset – hence the broken arm.

Eleven Plus families should not, perhaps, call upon the spirits to help – unless they are pretty sure that credit is offered where it is due. If the mother of the family, for example, has done particularly well on an eleven plus question – then she should be offered full recognition for her actions.

Heard on our eleven plus course:

“My mother says that she can not do long division the way we were taught at school.”

“My dad says that my mother is better at long division than him. He says that he could do it if he had more time.”

The Priest-diviners occupy a jealously guarded position in traditional society. Their role is to smell out witches and provide treatment for diseases. I am not sure how a Priest-diviner would solve the problem of long division. Would the Priest-diviner use herbs or prayer – or a combination of both?

There is, however, a possible eleven plus solution. We know that many, but not all, Priest-diviners use dancing to try to help to reach the state where their utterings are taken for granted. We know too that whistling is often used by spirits to communicate with the living.

A typical eleven plus family could have in its locker:

A collection of eleven plus papers.

The benefit of a mother’s ability to do long division.

A bucket of clay – just in case it will be needed.

A member of the family who knows about herbs.

A member of the family who can pray.

And finally a dancer and a whistler!

Can you picture scene? Mother and Father dancing round the kitchen table. Dad is reciting his tables. Mum is still explaining the division to any one who wants to listen. Older daughter who is still a little bored. Eleven plus candidate whistling and wishing that he or she was elsewhere! And finally the cat, who persists in climbing in and out of the `just in case’ clay pot.

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