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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

An Eleven Plus Escritoire

Question: When it the eleven plus like an escritoire? Answer: When children work through a restricted number of eleven plus topics – and are prompted to label them and stack the contents into little boxes and shelves. Question: How do you cope with missing letters within a word? Answer: Go to box D5, open it, take the information out, peruse it, use it and then file it until it is needed again.

The eleven plus is supposed, we must presume, to try to help to develop rational understanding of a restricted number of topics. The end result of the all the study and preparation is a letter saying:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Plusa

It is with great pleasure that this missive confirms that your child is deemed to be selective.

Please tell your child well done.

You will be informed about his or her chances of obtaining a place in the grammar school of your choice in the near future.

Yours sincerely

Mrs I. Didmybest

The eleven plus mind is supposed to be rather like a doughnut making machine. All the ingredients are placed in a large bowl, a mixing process takes place and then the doughnuts are sent off to be baked. If a candidate misses an important step then there is a chance that he or she will not rise to the occasion in the examination. But if much of eleven plus work is compartmentalised and stuck into closed little boxes – there will be little chance of a consummate blending of ideas.

Some eleven plus children will have super-efficient machinery designed to open and close the boxes at the right moment. Other children may need a little grease to oil the runners. Practice and exercise can help considerably when efforts are made to get the best possible out of the candidate. Indeed it looks as if the eleven plus examination is designed to help children to become receptive about the right ideas and snippets of information, and getting the eleven plus machine to work properly.

When parents and children work through eleven plus papers they are trying to help to develop reasoning and thinking. There must be more to the examination – there needs to be a spirit of working together. My mind often goes back to the mother I met some time ago who maintained proudly that her daughter had worked on a full eleven plus paper every single day of her Year 5 year. Her mother said that she sometimes made her daughter repeat a paper as many as six times – to prove to her daughter that she should not make mistakes and that she should maintain high standards. This information could make us wonder if her daughter will ever be able to cope with the pressures of the actual eleven plus examination – much less years of grammar school education. The poor girl’s gruel just got a little more mixed!

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