When working with your eleven plus child you may occasionally reflect on the great American Psychologist R. S. Woodworth. He had many interests – among them the attitude of the learner to learning new things.
Woodworth (1869 – 1962) tried to point out that in order to memorise efficiently and retain the memorised material, we need an active interested attitude along with an intent to learn. A lot of the work he did was with his university students – and he conducted many experiments on them.
He described a student who seemed slow at learning nonsense syllables. On being asked to recite the list the student exclaimed: “Oh! I didn’t understand I was to learn them.” The student had noted the syllables – but made no attempt to connect them. Eleven plus parents beware! It does help, sometimes, if you lay out exactly what your child has to do.
You could try a little experiment with your child. Hand over some nonsense syllables. Try to resist explaining what your child is expected to do with the syllables. Sit back and wait for something to happen.
“What am I supposed to do?”
“This is easy I have them in alphabetical order.”
“I can’t make words of these.”
“I can-not see the sequence.”
The response from your child may give you a little more insight into what might happen in the examination if he or she does not read the question carefully.