It is likely that most of us will have heard of Karen Hardy of Strictly Come Dancing fame. Some of us, however, may be interested, in a different way, with the work done by Karen Horney.
Karen Horney worked in 1937 on Personality. She may have been talking about the eleven plus – but we know that she was not because in 1937 the Eleven Plus had not been invented! She gave an account of our troubles.
She felt that modern culture (as it existed in the 1930s) was based on the principle of individual competition. She felt that competitiveness led to potential hostility that pervaded human relationships in our culture. (Would that be true of the eleven plus world? Is the eleven plus too competitive? Do some parents become a little driven and competitive? More papers. More exercises. More work!)
Karen Horney also felt the potential tension between individuals resulted in a constant generation of fear. (Yes dear, we do want you to do well in your eleven plus so that you can go to grammar school, then university and not land up like Uncle Jim who became a millionaire at 23 because of his inventions. Our family knows that money is not everything.)
Her third premise is one that may possibly resonate with some in the eleven plus world. She postulated that people felt they amounted to something when successful and felt worthless when defeated. (If your poor child does not reach 72% on an eleven plus test does it mean that he or she feels a failure? If so, how do you rebuild confidence before the next set back?)
So where does Karen Hardy come into the eleven plus equation? Very likely there is simply no connection. She does, however, seem to have the ability to help her protégés to rise to heights – and maintain a sense of fun at the same time. A whole lot of eleven plus children would enjoy a mum and dad who could help them to heights – whilst the family was having fun.