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 Post subject: The never ending circle
PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:25 pm 
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I am at the point where I and my child are having to decide whether or not to go for the 11+ exam this coming Autumn.

Whilst nibbling my finger nails one morning from the stress of the impending 11+ decision and suspiciously watching other parents for tell tale signs of covert tutor runs or extra classes, I had what you might call an Epiphany. Standing there watching the moms and dads dropping of their children and then disappearing in a blink in to ensure that they were not late for their jobs, it struck me. What exactly are we all aiming for with this 11+ stress malarkey anyway?

I decided to go for a coffee and ponder over said epiphany to work out what it meant. This is my conclusion in a nutshell.....

So you and they study and stress over the coming exam for anywhere between one and five years (five years, can you believe that some parents start that early!). The day arrives, they do the exam hopefully without breaking down in tears or wetting themselves under the pressure, and await the results.

After what seems like an eternity the envelope arrives, you (or should I say they) have made it in.

Now the hard work really begins.

Fast forward to GCSE's, A levels, degree. Tom or Sophie, after all of the years of study, examinations and strain are proud owners of ten GCSE's, four A levels and hopefully a degree in something slightly useful. Now what?

They join the queue fo the graduate positions along with the seventy or so other graduates clambering for the same position. After all of these years of study and strain they are still stressfully competing to get where they believe they should be.

Now, as luck would have it, and after only eighteen months of job applications and work that they never really saw themselves doing, both Tom and Sophie land positions as a result of their qualifications. The pay isn't what they were expecting but they count themselves lucky to have found a job.

The hours are long, they are worked hard, the 9 to 5 slowly morphs into an 8 to 7 and every month their pay packet seems worryingly light as a result of having to pay back the lifelong and somewhat hefty student loan that they ran up whilst studying.

Despite this, and partly due to the determination that was ingrained in them by their parents all those years ago while studying for the 11+, they soldier on and rise through the ranks. Their salary becomes larger as does the amount of tax deducted each month, the work days get longer, the out of hours business emails increase but at least they have nice company cars and can ski twice a year and have a couple of weeks off in the sun.

They both agree that it would be nice if it didn't take half of the holiday to pop themselves out of the work mindset but hey, at least they are away from the office.......

And so it goes on until one day, whilst hurriedly dropping off their kids at school so as not to be late for that important meeting at 9.15am on the other side of the city, they have their own epiphany whilst watching one of the parents chomping on their nails as they are walking into Caffe Nero.

"Caffe Nero, I wish I had time for coffee. Im running around like a headless chicken to pay for the things that I thought that I needed and I don't spend nearly as much time with the kid's as I'd like.....that reminds me, I mustn't forget to remind the childminder to drop them to their tutor this evening".......... And so the wheel turns.

Now all of this is just a though you understand. I want the best for my children too but I have to admit that the more I think about the 11+ mentality, the more I question it......


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:49 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:23 am
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...and I wish I could sell up and buy a small holding somewhere in the middle of nowhere and live a simple life as self-sufficient as possible......but is it fair to foist my fantasy on my child? And on the other hand what's wrong with bringing a child up in the countryside to live a different lifestyle? And on the other hand I do listen to The Archers and know that a farmer's life is not an easy one. And if I didn't do the '11+ madness' my local school is basically a sink school that has been on special measures in the past and busses in students from parts of London I wouldn't visit in broad daylight. And if my son is offered a place at an independent school but not on a substantial bursary, that means the end of all holidays, theatre, opera, concerts etc, etc.

We make decisions as parents and, rightly or wrongly, have to stand by them and show our children strength in our convictions - and at the end of the day they will say we did it wrong!!!


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:55 am 
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A very thought provoking thread.

My experience of the 11+ isn't as you described. I stressed over it but neither of my sons did. They were both extremely laid back about it. If I had seen any signs of stress or worry we wouldn't have put them through it, but then we had a very good back-up option. Now they are at grammar they are extremely happy and both love their school. I have one son who isn't at grammar (we didn't put him in for it) and his experience of school has been very similar to that of his brothers. They were all apprehensive when it came to the dreaded 1st March when they received their email to let them know which school they had got into, because they all wanted their first choice.

Having said all of this I do understand the point you are making. My dream would be to go and live on a ranch in Australia, but that certainly isn't their dream. I agree there does seem a lot of pressure on young people these days but I like to think that having a good education gives you choices. DH and I drum into them to do a job they enjoy as quality of life is so important. Good luck to all our DCs. :D


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:46 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 9:28 pm
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alittletoomuch - an interesting post and no doubt we have all doubted why we are on this roller-coaster at some point or other.

For me, grammar school suits my eldest academic son. He loves a learning environment.

Something that has always stuck in my mind, which someone wrote on EPE ages ago, is that we won't know the results of our '...social experiment we have regarding our children and their education until 20 years or so down the line..." (approximate quote). How true. We won't know whether the decisions that we have made for our children are correct until they are adults and making decisions for themselves. At least by going down the grammar school route, they have the option of becoming a doctor, or dustbin worker if they so wish.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:58 am 
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Sorry to disagree with the quote pc, but we'll never know the result of the experiment, as we'll never know if how things would turn out if we'd done things differently.

But agree wholeheartedly about education giving people choices. Once you have an education you don't have to use it.

And to the op, as has been said time and again, a lot of whether you decide to go down the 11+ route depends on what other choices you have. If we had a decent comp as an option, we probably would have chosen that instead of going down 11+ route.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:10 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 25, 2010 6:33 pm
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Must admit, that DH and I are living the lifestyle described by the OP. But as we came from another country, we did not do 11plus and just heard about it fairly recently. We went to the rubbish schools, felt no pressure and spent our childhood pretty much outdoors.
Still we are here, competing for the jobs.
My point is, grammar school is not the only root to Uni, many students in the comprehensive schools work hard, and get good grades.
As for graduates, it is tough...Our swimming teacher at the local pool is a lawyer, and nearly gave up to find a job. Huge debt too, still living with the parents.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:42 am 
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La boume, "Still we are here, competing for the jobs". This is my point. Comprehensive or grammar, university or college, straight A's or a few B's, it's still damn tough to get a job let alones the job that you think that you want. And how many people can honestly, honestly say that they are in their current position obtained as a result of their qualifications because they adore their job and leave most days after twelve hours of intense work with a smile on their face and a skip in their step?

I suppose the point that I am trying to put up for discussion is whether the whole qualification, do well, get a great job with a big employer in order to afford the gizmos that the advertising moguls decide that you need lifestyle is really the way to a happy life where you do actually do 'well'.

Imagine if their was a school that taught kids to think for themselves, to think outside of the box, to be different, to have faith in their idea and dreams, that there are some very viable and Rewarding alternatives to the qualification and corporate career life.

Mind you, it would probably need to be us parents that attend that particular school rather than our kids :)


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:10 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:14 pm
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In my summer holidays from 6th form/ university, I worked in a packing factory. It was very unpleasant, and (if you wanted to) you could do 12 hour shifts instead of 8. 12 hours packing deodourant, standing up, in a factory for £2.50 an hour (pre-minimum wage obv.): I remember thinking that all children should have a go at this for a few days, maybe age 14 or so, so they know how rubbish jobs can be if you don't have any quals. Each to their own though.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:33 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:46 pm
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alittletoomuch wrote:
I suppose the point that I am trying to put up for discussion is whether the whole qualification, do well, get a great job with a big employer in order to afford the gizmos that the advertising moguls decide that you need lifestyle is really the way to a happy life where you do actually do 'well'.


If this is the point that you are trying to make then you need to consider whether you should encourage your child to work hard at any school/educational institution not just for the 11+.
By all means live in a commune, go barefoot, plant wheat and herbs if this is what you feel will make you happy but be under no illusion that if you want to live in the real world having a solid education, a good job and being able to afford the nicer things makes for a better life than working long hours at hard physical labour for the minimum wage just to struggle to put food on the table.

BTW We put our DD in for the 11+ this year because she is a bright child and grammar school would suit her - haven't got any long term plans for her, as long as she is happy, but if she does end up with a high-flying job, a good salary and a big house we won't be asking ourselves if we did the right thing. :D


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:25 pm 
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alittletoomuch wrote:
Imagine if their was a school that taught kids to think for themselves, to think outside of the box, to be different, to have faith in their idea and dreams, that there are some very viable and Rewarding alternatives to the qualification and corporate career life.


The schools my sons go to strongly encourage the boys not to follow the crowd, to be unique, to follow their dreams and to think outside the box. They do however, emphasise the importance of hard work and perseverance in order to achieve the best they can as individuals. I have never heard from my sons that their schools have tried to encourage them to pursue corporate careers.

At my 16 year old sons' recent sixth form open evening the overriding message from the teachers to the boys was to choose subjects that they enjoy and are good at. What more could we ask for. I would have thought most schools are like this. I honestly don't think this is unusual.


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