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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Einstein and the Eleven Plus

We often hear that we should never ask a question if we do not know the answer. I think the theory is that you may hear something that you do not want to hear. I would, however, like to ask a question that I would like an answer to:

“Would Einstein have passed the eleven plus?”

We know that he lived from 1879 to 1955. The eleven plus started before 1955 so it is conceivable that he may actually have seen an eleven plus question. (It is probably, however, remarkably unlikely!)

We know that he was an astonishing and original thinker so he may have struggled with questions like:

`Man is to humanity as animals are to …. ‘It is possible that he may have had some deep thoughts on this question and so did not finish the test. (Some eleven plus children appear to sometimes over analyse questions they find interesting and so do not complete all the questions.)

Among his many interests was the speed of light. He was awarded, for example, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1921 for his work on `photoelectric effect’.  This probably would not have helped in writing the eleven plus because he may have worked too quickly through his eleven plus paper! Especially if he was reading and answering at the speed of light!

He knew a great deal about mass and energy. This also may have caused problems in preparing for the eleven plus. When he worked out E=mc2 he may have poured scorn on the idea of being asked to calculate the value of the formula `E’ if m was equal to 4 and c = 3.

The final reason why he may have had some difficulty with the eleven plus is that he settled in America – and the Americans do not seem to embrace the concept of the eleven plus. In place of the eleven plus many Americans school seem to prefer `Gifted and Talented’ programs.

So would Einstein have passed the eleven plus? I still don’t know because he explained how some counter-intuitive things happened to space and time as `c’ approached. If someone can explain that to me – I would be very grateful! I really would like the answer.