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Monday, October 10, 2011

Chunking Away at the Eleven Plus

Would some parents be grateful for the opportunity of learning a little more about the secrets of some of the topics taught at school? Let us imagine, just for a moment, that `The Eleven Plus Pupil’ has been asked by the school to do an exercise on chunking. We would expect that every primary school teacher would immediately be grateful for the opportunity of helping their children, and the parents of their children, to understand chunking. Mother and Father would be ushered into `little’ seats in the class room on `Chunking Tuesday’. The teacher would start explaining `chunking’. Mother and father would listen attentively - after all, chunking could be the difference between a pass and a fail.

Does the teacher dominate the proceedings with lots of chalk and talk or does the teacher encourage the parents to explore chunking and come up with their own solutions and understanding? Who talks the most? The teacher or the parents? Do the parents make notes if they are being lectured by the teacher or do they make notes while they are working away on the chunking assignment?

Who asks the questions? Is it the teacher or the parents? Do the parents copy anything written on the board (be it a black board or a white board) neatly onto their papers – or do they hope to understand the intricacies of chunking in such a way that they can then help their child to understand?

Do `Mother and Father’ thank the teacher on the way out – and then expect their child to thank them after experiencing their `expert’ exposition? Do `Mother and Father’ help their child to learn chunking by offering an erudite lecture – or through a gentle explanation of various options?

Should Mother and Father turn to the internet for a revision of what chunking means – or have they internalised the various operations to be able to remember how to do a chunking example after an interval of two months?

What does the poor child do if `mum and dad’ can almost remember how to chunk but inadvertently leave out a step so that nothing quite works out? Does the eleven plus child ask the teacher at school or wait patiently for `mum and dad’ to work it all out?

What happens if Mother and Father say - `Look love, why not try the way I was taught and the way our parents before us were taught?”

“But mum. But dad.”

“Oh dear, why don’t we all try a little chunking again.”

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