How much can we rely on the observations and thoughts of family, friends, neighbours and the school community? If children can be broadly categorised into three main groups – then we may be able to find potential grammar school pupils without having to test the children. The groups could be `bright’, `average’ and `not so able’. But can children be graded in such a manner or do we need to rely solely on tests?
Some teachers may possibly argue that any classification by non-professions must be suspect. Ask a teacher who is the brightest in the class – and it is likely that he or she would identify at least one child. Ask a grandmother to point out the brightest in her family and she would probably have remarkably little difficulty in pointing out the star of the family.
Of course we can change the classification of the children into: `grammar school potential’, `boarder line’ and `would not be happy in an academic environment’. This could please some of the observers – but some parents would be very upset.
Just think of the outcry – and the hurried rewriting of eleven plus papers and books – if questions along the following lines were recommended. Surely this is a vocabulary item?
“Dad, is an ox a sort of male cow?”
“Sort of, yes.”
“And equine means something to do with horses?”
“That is right.”
“Well Dad, what is an equinox?”