Our eleven plus courses start next week. Children from a wide number of schools will be meeting each other. When they are at school the children will be very aware of a form of pecking order. It is easy for all the children in the class to recognise those on the top table along with those on the middle table.
When children come on a course they meet likeminded competitors – all striving to do as well as possible. They become part of a group with a common endeavour but they remain individuals. The children will adopt, at different times, a number of guises and attitudes towards the others.
Some will be happy with a form of `fight or flight’. This is where the children will either listen to a virtual stranger’s views with respect or try to argue a point.
A second approach may be to break into pairs – possibly with the assumption that they are meeting with a like-minded `colleague’ and will continue to work together peacefully and purposefully.
There is also a third possibility where the children look for a natural leader. This may be a confident and able child with a strong personality.
Weaving in and out of the different dynamics there will a strong sense of purpose that if anyone says or does something `out of key’ then the group will show their collective will.
There will be many layers of attitudes towards the work the children will meet on the course. Different relationships between the children and their tutors will also emerge. If parents could steel themselves to sit and watch their children over the duration of the course the word `phylogenetic’ may spring to mind. For the most part the parents will see their children sitting quietly and seriously. They will see occasional flights of humour. But most of important of all they will see a steady pattern of extraordinary sophistication and intelligence. If the word phylogenetic is to do with evolutional development then parents will be able to reflect: “That is my child. A chip off the old block.”