A number of strands may come to the fore when parents think about the eleven plus. One could be to what extent their child would benefit from a grammar school education. Another could be how much the whole year will cost. The name Protagoras must come to mind. Protagoras was very possible one of the first of the teachers to charge for teaching. He commendably argued, amongst other things, for virtue in life and work. Parents could also think – am I really helping my child or is there too much pressure?
Parents of eleven plus children could, in theory, help their children to understand what is right and what is wrong through shared eleven plus work. We meet children, for example, where the parents have taken the answers out of the book or folder. “My **** says I will cheat if I can look at the answers.” It could be argued, by some, that the answers in an eleven plus exercise are to help the parents to confirm an answer - rather than provide the facility for their child to be able to copy the answers. If a mother, or a father, look at the answers while they are helping their child to work through a paper – is that very different from them using the answers to mark the completed piece of work? If the child looks at the answers while working through a paper to see if he or she is right; is that cheating?
“Did you look at the answers?”
This could be a loaded question in the child’s mind. “Are you implying that I am cheating? I know the difference between right and wrong. Why that question? All I am doing is working out if I have the right answer. You told me last week to look at the answers.”
“Are you trying to be rude? You know this is a different set of circumstances.”
“You have hurt my feelings. I feel embarrassed that you brought this up in front of others in the family. Yes, I looked at the answers – but this was intentional behaviour. I know you are busy. I just want to see if I am right or wrong. If I leave the work for you to mark I know that I will have to wait until tomorrow.”
“Yes, you are right. But I am still not sure if this was all your work – because you did find some topics difficult last week.”
“I agree – but we went over those topics. This paper is very similar to the one I did last week. I do know the difference between what is right and wrong. Last week I struggled. This week everything was much easier. I just wanted to see if I could do the work.”
“All right dear, you win. We will leave the answers in the book – but please just let me know when you are going to look at the answers.”
“Mother, you taught me about Protagoras a few weeks ago. I know that I need to be virtuous when I am doing my eleven plus work.”