Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Eyeing up the future of 11-plus

Anyone remotely interested in the 11-plus debate should have noted the presence of a mythical creature known as the Cyclops.

This one-eyed giant lives on an island imbued with views, values and practices which are thousands of years old. There is only one true road to success, according to Polyphemus, one of the authorities in the tribe of Cyclopedes (Belfast Telegraph, October 22) and that is success at 11-plus.

The Cyclops, with only one eye, can imagine only one option for children. He proposes slavish devotion to a selection procedure long since exposed as a form of social engineering.

Robert McCartney’s article castigated schools for too few children sitting the test. Parents choose whether or not children opt in to the test, not the schools.

Cyclopedes understanding of the process of how parents select their choices is seriously flawed.

Schools who care for all children do not process children and play with parental expectation — rather they include all children irrespective of ability, disposition or aspiration. By selecting a one-eyed, one route approach to children’s life chances, Cyclopedes deny the existence of alternative routes to academic success .

They ignore the successes of local secondary schools which provide a route to further and higher education for all children, not just the academic elite.

To suggest that low levels of achievement for some children is the fault of teachers is rather like saying low levels of dental hygiene can be blamed on dentists

If Cyclops’s view of progress prevailed, children in P1 would be stuck behind a desk being yelled at by Mrs Gamp and writing with a quill. Education for the 21st century should have Polyphemus as an ancient character and not a media hungry voice hectoring parents, teachers and children on their future.

Odysseus

Belfast

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