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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chaucer, Gutenberg and the Eleven Plus

A POVRE widwe somdel stope in age,
Was whylom dwelling in a narwe cotage,
Bisyde a grove, stondyng in a dale.
This widwe, of which I telle yow my tale,
Sin thilke day that she was last a wyf,
In pacience ladde a ful simple lyf,
For litel was hir catel and hir rente.

Just think of the problems this poor widow would have had if she had had to cope with the stresses and traumas of the eleven plus year as well.

It seems that all she wanted was a simple life – and then came the eleven plus. It was no good her thinking about her sheep and pigs – she had to concentrate on verbal reasoning and mathematics.

We know that Chaucer lived between 1340 and 1400 and dear old Gutenberg developed his printing press in 1439 – so there may have been a little time lag!

All the verbal reasoning papers would have had to have been written by hand. The mathematics exercises would have taken time to prepare. The poor widow may have struggled to find adequate eleven plus resources. There may have been a further complication – how many places did the local grammar schools have? She lived beside a grove – down a dale – how would she have ferried her child to school, to activities and to little treats? Of course the price of petrol would have been cheaper – but with no car and far from any bus route – transport would have been something to consider.

How did families survive without the eleven plus?