The next time you contemplate encouraging your child to attempt an eleven plus paper – why not take the opportunity to invite one of his or her friends? You will then have the chance of seeing your child working with another on an academic task. The results could possibly be illuminating.
It may seem, at times, that the two children are functioning almost intuitively. They may work on questions without any gesture, speech or signal. On other questions there may be chatter, discussion, laughter and togetherness. On one or two questions they may act almost as if they are hunters.
Picture the two children on the trail of an eleven plus answer. They will be co-operating smoothly and almost silently. There could almost be an absence of words. If a hunter was working on his or her own then the hunter’s behaviour would probably be very different from when hunting in a group. It is conceivable that the same might be true of eleven plus children working together. You child working on his or her own may react very differently when working with a friend.
The exigencies of the patterns of behaviour expected of an eleven plus child working alone will be determined by a variety of factors. These factors will range from sheer pleasure in tackling unfamiliar questions to horror at the idea of yet more work. The complexity of working for one’s `mother or father’ could, in some cases, be swept away as a result of the unfamiliar circumstances of working with a partner.
Suppose the two children strike a problem. They will work together, then independently and then may, at some stage, ask for help. This could lead to a conference type of situation where ideas will be filtered into the discussion by the different parties. There could be suggestions, which are accepted or ignored, possibly some internal conflict within the family, along with compromises and repetition.
Hypothetically, joining up with other candidates and their parents, at times, will give insight, understanding and compassion. This would need to be tested with a number of friends and families.
It is no secret that I come from Africa. There was a custom among the Swazis which allowed news to travel remarkably quickly. When two people met on a pathway they talked about what they had done, who they had met, what they had learned and what they intended to do. In one form Twitter, forums and Face Book allow eleven plus parents the opportunity to communicate with other individuals and groups. But what parents and their children may find by working together they gain rapport.