I have a book, previously owned by the Rev. G.E. Bussell. I have no idea who Rev. Bussell is, why he bought the book and what use he made of the content. My copy is the `Cheaper Edition’ of 1937 by Alfred Adler. The book is called: “Understanding Human Nature”.
Adler maintained that the book was an attempt to acquaint the general public with the fundamentals of Individual Psychology. I remembered a passage when I heard a mother talking about her eleven plus child the other day. She mentioned his eighteen year old brother. The older brother had started off very well at the grammar school and then stopped enjoying school in Year 13.
Adler wrote about (Page 104) the history of a very capable young boy whose father, a teacher, constantly spurred his son on to be first in his class. Alder described how the young boy kept having victories – and was always the conqueror. The story developed to where the boy was now eighteen and depressed, distracted. He described how he went to great lengths to withdraw from the world. His father, however, hoped that his shut in life would enable him to concentrate on his studies.
There was no happy ending to Alder’s case. The boy was ruled by the idea that his father was to blame for his misfortune, and their relationship became worse day by day. Alder maintained that the boy was judge, claimant and defendant all in his own person.
Would the Rev. Bussell have preached that it would be fine to offer a reward for coming first once or twice? Would the Rev. Bussell have approved of a measured and thoughtful approach to the eleven plus? Would Adler have loved to have had the ability to interview and study a few of today’s eleven plus children?
Would it be preaching to say that the moral of the story is that eleven plus children do not need to be put under too much pressure?