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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Knitting Through an Eleven Plus Problem

You have been working with your child on `Codes’ in verbal reasoning. The questions did not come from one of the major publishers in the eleven plus market. The paper came from a friend of a friend – so the provenance is unknown. Thankfully there is an answer sheet. You work steadily with your child – but seem to be struggling. Some of the jumps in the codes do not seem to have any material relationship. Your mind flickers.  Should we continue or live to fight another day.

Your child mutters: “Well mum – can’t you do these? Dad can!”

(Dad was working from the 8 – 9 book – not the eleven plus book – but if you try to explain this you could be thought to be a poor loser,)

There is not an eleven plus mother in the world who is not a quick thinker. You have a flashback to that wonderful moment when your husband to be, pulled the graphology card. You know, this is where you maintain that you can read someone’s hand. You explain to your child that an expert graphologist can read a person’s character from their handwriting. It may seem a little desperate to mislead your child but codes are codes and a desperate situation calls for a desperate remedy.

Every graphologist has a little secret. This secret is not always shared with everybody – but no graphologist ever says anything that could be construed as negative.  (Keep the positive vibes, man.) Your child will be amazed the uncanny accuracy of your predictions.

Prediction One: “This shows that you have a good sense of humour.” Now we all know that while the eleven plus is important, too many so called experts just do not appear to have a sense of humour. But eleven plus children can have a sense of humour. Your child would love to hear that you think that he or she has a sense of humour. Easy? Of course – you are starting to win the battle.

Prediction Two: “One day you will own a Jaguar.” A number of young people would like to own a Jaguar. It is possible that your child will think that you (the pretend graphologist) think that that greatness lies ahead.  This, of course, is cunning marketing when you present a status symbol as an achievable goal. Many people buy Jaguars – and many purchasers do not always go through a grammar school education. You have, however, planted in your child’s mind: “The eleven plus equals success which leads to owning Jaguars at an early age.”

Prediction Three: “Let us look at the answers and work backwards.” This could be fatal and undermine everything you have worked towards. Only some answers show the working out. Working backwards can be time consuming and sometimes misleading. Suppose we use the analogy of Newton and the apple falling to ground to prove gravity. It took Newton 25 years before this thesis was adopted universally. As an eleven plus parent you do not have that long.

You turn away from the table. You pick up the telephone. You phone your husband’s mother. “Please remind me how to do cable stitching.”

“Easy, dear.

Slip three stitches on a spare needle.
Knit the next three.
Then knit the three you slipped.”

You thank your child’s grandmother.

You say to your child: “I have it. Look at question fifteen. Slip forward three letters. Miss three more and then slip three more.” (You say to yourself: “No mother or grandmother can ever be beaten.”)