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Friday, September 02, 2011

Eleven Plus Freedom

Do you remember back to your art classes? Did these lessons offer the opportunity to throw aside the well ordered convention of the classroom? Were you offered materials and equipment and encouraged to be creative and think beyond your normal bounds? Did you feel at home as you walked into the classroom?

Was the classroom neatly ordered in rows – or was it a glorious setting for piles of paper, pots, brushes, collage material and drying paintings and creations? Were there heads made of newspaper drying on a ledge? Was the classroom a maze where navigation was hit and miss and it was difficult to walk in a straight line?

What about your art teacher? Was your teacher larger than life or rather introverted and lacking in charisma? Would you love, just for a few moments, to be ten again and be asked to create and let your ideas sing?

The eleven plus year makes some children into slaves to papers, tutors, scores and the aspirations of their parents. To some children it may possibly feel like a ritual dance.

It is Monday. 4.15 “Take your position, please, for ten minutes on verbal reasoning.”

It is still Monday. 4.25. Mark the exercise. Go over errors. Accept praise where it is due. Utter: “May I be excused now please?”

Other very lucky and highly fortunate children will simply be able to avoid the regime. “We never do any papers. If my child can’t do then my child can’t do it. The examination will sort out the deserving and the brave.”

Some children may like a little of everything.

Freedom to choose what and when to work.

Freedom to alter the timetable.

Freedom to be able to ask for extra work.

Freedom from a formal eleven plus ritual and regime.

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