There is a theory that much of human learning takes place through imitation. In a great many eleven plus situations children will learn to solve a problem –not by being original or highly creative in their thinking – but by imitating someone who can solve the problem
When the eleven plus child writes an answer to a question he or she has often learnt how to cope with the topic in the company of others. Few eleven plus children will learn by being sent to their room to study a topic and then be expected to be able to apply this to an eleven plus question.
We hope that eleven plus children will imitate the work and actions of good role models. We saw in the recent riots that even very bright young people will imitate each other. When mob hysteria strikes, then people can be urged to commit horrendous crimes.
Who does the eleven plus child imitate if he or she is faced by a challenging question? We could look, for example, at a question that we hope will never come up in an eleven plus examination.
A certain number of pence is being shared among some children. If they have eleven pence each there are three pence left over. But three pence more are needed if they are to have twelve pence each. How much money is being shared, and how many children are sharing it?
When mum or dad is called to the table to help to solve a challenging question their eleven plus child may well be watching their demeanour and conduct with great interest. If possible parents should not show fear or trepidation but should read the question twice and then murmur quietly and confidently: “69p and 6 children.”
Their child will look up in awe and ask: “How did you do that?”
This is where an excuse to run and see to the rest of the family may be appropriate.