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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Eleven Plus Choices

A short time ago a wide number of parents were asked to choose – and place in order – the senior schools they wanted their children to attend. Some parents will have put down grammar schools while others will have opted for different types of schools.

There is a branch of Sociology called `Sociometry’ which looks at how and why people make choices. The eleven plus scene may well confuse some students of sociometry. When school A is chosen over school B some parents will have asked the opinion of their children. Other parents will have gathered up opinions, ideas and thoughts from other parents, [personal observations, advice from tutor and teachers and a general `gut’ feeling.

One set of parents, for example, had a very easy choice to make. Their house was not only in the same road as the grammar school – but was actually separated by no more than a fence. The house had come down through the family - and the current father of the family had gone to the same school. Today’s generation passed two different eleven plus examinations so could attend the next door school or one some six miles away.

Choices are made in a variety of ways.

The Chain: A chooses B; B chooses C and C chooses D.

The Stars: A number of people will all make the same popular choice.

The Triangle: A wants B; B wants C and C wants A.

The role of the sociometrist (if there is such a word) is to try to find the isolates – these are the choices that no one seems to want. Why do some people not want to be part of a chain, a star or a triangle? Can these feelings affect the choice some parents feel they have to make?

Suppose the child mentioned above feels that he or she has been bullied right through junior school and that the bully will also be offered a place at the school next door. Is a round trip of twelve miles for the next six years worth being able to escape being bullied?

Experiments were carried out in the First World War where the privates were encouraged to suggest candidates to become non-commissioned officers or even officers. The officers also played a part and were also encouraged to choose candidates for promotion. Would any of the comrades recommend a highly unpopular individual for promotion – simple to help them out of the troop? Would officers want a detested individual in their ranks? Perhaps there was even the possibility of a scheme to ship the unfortunate out into a different contingent!

If only children had an equal say in the choice of school. Mum and dad put down their choices. Children put down their own equally weighted choices. Children could have the opportunity to justify their selections.

“I do not want to go to ** Grammar School because ** is going there. ** is a bully.”

A sociometrist would be in his or her element!

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