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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Eleven Plus Learning and Remembering


Some children, and their parents, may look upon the chore of working through a multitude of eleven plus papers suspiciously. After all the ability to learn something to do with the eleven plus and the ability to be able to remember how to work through a similar example in the eleven plus are not the same thing. Some children may be able to argue – successfully – that learning and remembering are quite different.

Learning, in some forms, can be to do with the ability to perform a task – usually following lots of repetition. The evidence for this is the plethora of eleven plus papers where a technique is exposed – only to be followed by a number of questions testing and evaluating understanding. This is all very well – but fatigue, boredom and level of difficulty cannot be easily controlled by the eleven plus child. Naturally meeting the same set of circumstances in more and more papers should, in theory, consolidate and drive home the ability to be able to manage the task in the examination.` Repetition’ could, in some cases, become a key eleven plus mantra.

It would, irritate some children immeasurably if they were to be aware that in some learning experiences a plateau can be reached. Too much of the same activity may not actually help. When little Oliver said: “Please Sir, can I have some more?” he was probably not talking about a steady stream of eleven plus papers!

The hypothesis that some of us probably apply is that overlearning helps. (“You only have one chance at the eleven plus, dear, so just keep on working.”) But there does not seem to be much current evidence, other than anecdotal, that working on eleven plus papers actually helps. Once a child is able to cope with verbal analogies, for example, then how many times will he or she have to work on them before the examination before the child remembers how to do analogies? The analogies a child will meet in the examination are not the analogies a child meets in practice papers.

“Again? But we did these last week!”

“Yes dear, but the questions were different.”

“I know, but I remember how to do these. They are just boring now.”

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