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Monday, April 29, 2013

Chasing Eleven Plus Shadows

Your child is faced with an eleven plus paper. There is no need for concern. The paper is one in a grand series of offerings to the spirit of the eleven plus. The family is quiet, the cat is asleep, the canary is silent (for once!). There is only the sound of the evening stew bubbling gently on the stove.

All of a sudden there is an upheaval. A question appears to be insurmountable. How can the dilemma be resolved? Should you help or suggest that your child moves on?

“Dear, there are two main laws when approaching a question.”


“There is the law of hedonism and the law of association. The law of association says that X is always followed by Y. X and Y have always been associated with each other.”

“Mum, I am lost. Where is this going?”

“The law of hedonism states that we learn things because they have some effect on our well-being.”

“I am not sure that I understand what you are saying.”

“Hedonism is where you look for pleasure. You are doing this eleven plus paper because you want to please yourself and please me. If you can work out the answer to that question you will please both of us.”

“Well Mum, as Y follows X there is no way I can make either of us happy. I just can’t do this question.”

“Let us do this together. Can you read the question to me please?”

“Fine. What is as big as a hippopotamus, the same shape as a hippopotamus, but weighs a lot less than a hippopotamus?”

“I am not sure. Answering an eleven plus question like that is like chasing your shadow.”

“Mum, you are a genius! It is the hippopotamus’s shadow! Now we are both happy!”

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