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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Eleven Plus Thinking

Some years ago, before the eleven plus became such a large part in the lives of many parents and children, an educator called Kirkpatrick was highly critical of traditional education. He did not like the idea of children being taught individual subjects like mathematics and English – but he wanted to combine the subjects to take away the need for fixed attention to the subjects.

He used the example of a boy and corn.

He said that if you wish to have corn you give the boy a plan to grow the corn.

If you wish `boy’ rather than `corn’, in other words you want to educate the boy and not focus on the corn, then you let the boy make his own plan.

Does the eleven plus offer us a dichotomy between helping our children to pass the examination and helping our eleven plus child to grow and develop?

Kirkpatrick wanted education to have a real purpose. His formula was:


The next time you approach an eleven plus exercise with your child you could consider asking yourself – is this an exercise for my child as a learner to help him or her grow and develop intellectually and academically? Or, are we working together on an exercise to pass the examination?

More simply is the eleven plus more about what to think rather than how to think? If so, shame on those who set the examination. Shame on the publishers for allowing this to happen. Shame on the grammar schools who allow an examination where the children who pass are good at what can be taught and learnt. Shame on us, as parents and teachers, for allowing this to happen.

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