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PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 7:00 am 
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There is an article in the Times today about the aspirational Middle Classes raising children who are risk averse and can't cope with failure.

I also think the growing feeling at the moment is that IQ is pretty much set and to seek to go beyond pre-prescribed limits damaging to children (despite the good work of Dweck and Syed etc). I think it's interesting Pre-Tests are increasing in independent schools and there's a growing feeling that these can't and shouldn't be prepared for. There's a larger section on them on the ISEB website with a link to an example. I predict the 11 plus is heading in this direction too. Ability trumping any prior attainment. Perhaps this is the fairer system? I also read that universities are going to move towards American SAT tests with the over-prepared or advantaged (due to literacy rich environment or similar) not making as desirable undergraduates as the intrinsically bright. It's possible to bit of a lazy slacker, but clever, and ace an SAT test I believe. Anecdotally, I know plenty that did :). Anyway here's an excerpt. Interested in what others think?


By 11, children need to acquire a level of independence, an ability to self-direct their learning, and self-motivate. Nothing induces apathy more than being micro-managed and told what to do. It’s like growing a plant propped up by a bamboo stick. It might look strong, but once you take the stick away, the plant collapses.

1 Trust the school to place your child in the best group for his ability
Our paranoia, that if a child isn’t automatically in the top academic stream from the beginning, he is doomed to mediocrity, places huge pressure on children. Children develop at different rates and need to work at the level that suits them, to learn well and without anxiety. Even if you feel your child is capable of more, resist the urge to demand that he be moved to the top stream. Mixed ability groups tend to work together really well, especially with younger children, as they learn from each other and with each other.

If you have to tutor a child for a school, it might be the wrong school
If a child has to be ferociously tutored and hot-housed for years to pass an entrance exam, the pace and academic demands of that school might be too much pressure for him to manage. Dr Suniya Luthar, Foundation Professor at the Department of Psychology, at Arizona State University, found in her research, published inPsychology Today, that the most unhappy, desperate, mentally ill children are those whose affluent parents drive them to be high achievers and are wildly over-protective. I see the same problems with children here, who go to independent schools. The schools are brands; they need consistently very high results, so the focus is largely on outcome. There’s not enough consideration as to what that pressure does to the individual child.

Don’t schedule their lives
Give children space to be, to breathe, to think about things independently, to discover and explore in their own way, at their own pace. There is an idea that by the time children have done their A levels, they are who they are going to be. But so many very successful people did badly at school. Professor Sir John Gurden, who won a Nobel Prize for his pioneering work in cloning, was told at Eton that he was too stupid to study science. His report: “He will not listen, but will insist on doing his work in his own way”!

Help your children to value themselves for who they are, not their achievements
Parenting has become a competitive sport; it’s not just the bag you carry and the car you drive, it’s where your child goes to school, how clever they are, and where they’re going to university. Retain a sense of the whole child, rather than defining them in terms of specific cognitive abilities. One mother told her son she’d be as proud if he went to the local comp as if he won a place at a prestigious grammar. He replied, “Yeah, right.”


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 8:30 am 
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I agree to a certain extent.
I am saddened by the drive for kids to go to grammar schools as an extention of their parents' beliefs and not the children's abilities.

I had no desire to send my kids to a super- selective school at all. However, my first child is just the sort of kid that should go there! He's exceptionally bright- he finished the primary maths syllabus half way through yr. 5 and his teachers say he has a talent for science- he's also obsessed with astronomy and atomic physics.
He has done really well in the entrance rest for the one selective school we put him in off and we are thinking he is likely to get a place there.
From march this yr he had a tutor for one hour a week to help him with technique on the paper and he did a another paper at home maybe 3 weeks out of 4. Just before the exam I got him to do one paper every third day or so for a couple of weeks
So, he had about 25-30 hrs work to prep him for the test ( tho we had the summer off)

I think it's a ****** shame to be having kids starting tutoring now for next yrs exam.
There's posts around talking about shouting matches and kids sitting 'all day' until they have finished the work thst the parent has set. Nothing can be worth that level of stress for the kids.
I suspect my second child might not be up for the school my first child is likely to go to, so we won't push him to try unless he actually wants to. He is smart but doesn't have the intuitive understanding of maths and science that his brother has.

My kids to to a primary with no homework.
They don't do any schoolwork at home.

I truly believe this is the way their lives should be at primary.
And I feel sad for ll the kids who have tutors for this and thst and have screaming matches with their parents every week. It's a real shame


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 8:33 am 
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I would follow the example of the Nobel prize winning scientist quoted and feel free to take or leave the opinions of the author of this rather shallow article.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 8:49 am 
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I think I can see both sides. IMO things are going to be increasingly tough and competitive for our children in the future; much more competition for jobs and difficult economic times ahead. Getting the best exam results, whether we like it or not, is going to be important. A long lassiez-faire simmer and self-directed learning might lead to a child who has fantastic fun at school & whilst very creative doesn't come near to reaching his potential and isn't served well in the future. I think our children may need to be driven like never before and the question is what sort of school will foster that drive? We also want schools that encourage intellectual curiosity & intrinsic motivation, which schools do this best? Whilst a pressure cooker environment is no good for a child nor is the opposite.

Also I think the elephant in the room is the best teachers gravitate to the schools at the top of the league tables. Not always, but if you look at schools with fantastic results they often say it isn't so much about selecting the brightest but having the best teachers. Brighton College is an example of this. If I am an incredibly smart, inspiring, motivated and quite brilliant young teacher more often than not I am going to be ambitious. I am going to prefer to work for what the article calls a 'branded' school ahead of a struggling comprehensive with a poor reputation. I know something about the recruitment of teachers recently at Brighton College - the bar is so very, very high. (I know brilliant teachers opt for more challenging environments too).

Do people think that we will end up with 11 plus cognitive ability tests and the mindset will change so that tutoring stops? Few teachers think it's a good idea to coach beyond familiarisation, I've never met one yet who would encourage it and I've met rather a lot over the years.

Generally speaking too IME where ability grouping is used there is often a sliding scale of disruption - usually more of it in the bottom sets. We all want our children to be with motivated, interested children & I think that's where some of the parental anxiety referred to in the article springs from as regards this area.

If a child has attended a very relaxed school with not much homework etc then it can be hard to enforce any kind of work ethic or 11 plus prep. For some 30 mins to an hour's prep after school is routine and expected. This can mean a child can take on homework at secondary school without breaking a sweat & useful study habits are ingrained. I also think that a healthy dose of academic competition can drive up standards and lead to an over arching academic ethos at school - not always a bad thing even if a child is not seen as being academically bright. Would I want that for my children? High academic standards and expectations? I think the the answer would always be yes whatever their ability.

I have seen too many children fail as they had no work ethic and study habits. At 14, especially with the boys, it was just impossible to get them to change their ways. They'd done not very much up to then and seemingly couldn't change. That was horrible to witness.


Last edited by Cranleigh on Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:20 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:03 am 
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I would hope no one has 11+ screaming matches with their kids every week, but some kids will have screaming matches about anything, the one hour practice paper you have asked them to sit down and complete, for their own benefit does sometimes become the catalyst for a tantrum, rather than tidying the bedroom, eating nicely, brushing teeth, etc. We did a similar amount of work with Ds 1 as you, but he still managed to have blow ups, but once he got it out of his system he was fine and loving. Ds3 is doing far more prep, in little daily snippets, no tantrums at all, but he will have a massive sulk about something else completely irrationally instead...that's just hormones and testing parameters.

I too however despair at kids missing holidays, play and activities, our 11+ time comes directly out of after school or before school telly time/ messing about time, so no big loss really, and I make sure they have some chill time too. Where do all the hours come from??


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 11:36 am 
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Windyday, I don't get your post at all. You have a super bright child who finished his Maths syllabus half a year early but still had him tutored for 3 months. You then go on to criticise people who tutor early. Why didn't you see if natural ability would get him through?

Well done for your child, honestly, but the high and mighty stance doesn't wash, the point I think you're trying to make is that you had no desire to send your child to a super selective but due to his brilliance you relented.

So the 4 months makes all the difference to you does it? I bet you tutor your second, in fact if this were not a virtual forum I would lay money on it. Tutoring for technique, classic - 12 hours of 'technique'.

More often now parents use this forum as an anonymous chest thumping exercise, which is pointless.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 1:32 pm 
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"If a child has to be ferociously tutored and hot-housed for years to pass an entrance exam, the pace and academic demands of that school might be too much pressure for him to manage."

Same old same old. Anyone who openly gets their children professionally tutored is "hot housing and ferocious about it", whilst no tutoring (rare as hens teeth, possibly even not that common) or DIY tutoring, you are not. Why can there be no middle ground? Why can't parents, DIY or prof, be giving their children a little help to fill in the gaps at state primary school, that then helps them to end up at the school they are most suited for. I am sure that at least 80% of the parents here call into that category, more or less, of NOT hot housing, but giving their DCs the tools to most effectively achieve a lace at the school that is right for their ability.
Maybe I am too Pollyanna on this, but I am heartily sick of being made to feel we are smh kind of tiger parents who constantly ferry little johnny around from stressful lesson to stressful coach to stressful practise, to live vicariously through their falsely own achievements. Meh! Now, must go, it's their three hour mandarin practise paper at 2pm and they are still not back from advanced Cossack dancing.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:36 pm 
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Cranleigh I agree with what you say but it is quite a foggy point to discuss because every child comes from different circumstances and everyone means different things by coaching, tutoring, familiarisation etc.

Teachers who say don't tutor etc in any shape or form other than the familiarisation provided at the start of the real test - I would ignore them. Just because loads of them say it does not make it correct.

Nothing has put the royal family off going to the wrong schools.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:44 pm 
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and most of them aren't the sharpest tools in the box are they; privileged because of the tax payer.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 3:16 pm 
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Yamin151 wrote:
Now, must go, it's their three hour mandarin practise paper at 2pm and they are still not back from advanced Cossack dancing.


Do you not find that the advanced Cossacks dancing under nourishes their minds? I have asked for my dc's latin tutor to project latin verbs onto a screen at the end of the village hall whilst he dances, to ensure the very best use of the three hours. Ds often used to forget his plural verb endings, but I have seen vast improvement since combining sessions.


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