## Wednesday, January 09, 2013

### Eleven Plus Cognitive Skills

Eleven plus children, who want to go to a grammar school, `need’ to pass the eleven plus. We know that children have basic needs – along the lines of food, water, sleep, clothing and so on. Children also need some form of education in order that they can survive. But why do children `need’ to pass the eleven plus?

Parents, teachers, schools, family and friends are all making assumptions about a child in the build-up to the eleven plus examination.  Parents, of course, are planning and specifying educational needs and objectives. Some parents will allow any eleven plus objectives to take care of themselves. “If my child can pass she will do it on her own. We do not need to have to work through eleven plus books and papers.”

Other parents will be adopting a far more formal agenda. One way and another they may be following at least parts of Bloom’s Classification of Objectives. Bloom divided objectives into three categories – the cognitive, the affective and the psycho-motor. Cognitive objectives lie around the intellectual skills while affective objectives are to do with awareness and the last with organising and structuring.

Why should an eleven plus child studying mathematics need to know how to find ten per-cent of a number? It is reasonably simple to show an eleven plus child how to find 10% - but it does involve several elements. A child has to be able to understand what a `per-cent’ is. He or she must also be able to interpret and understand the `%’ sign. There is also the question of the size of the number. Finding 10% to 24 is reasonably easy. Finding 10% of 0.0045 is possibly a little more difficult. Understanding the implications of a 10% discount is, possibly, even more demanding.

Do we really need to teach percentages? At the moments any eleven plus children, for the mathematics part of the examination, need to be able to work out 10% of a given number. What is really important is that they can use this skill to be able to deduce a worthy eleven plus answer.

Developing and testing numerical reasoning questions suggests that certain types of grammar schools require children who can think and reason. The children may also need to be able to solve simple problems – but it is in the application of the processes in arriving at an answer that we find the higher level cognitive skills.