No techies please

(Guest post by @Tinegoedhart)

During your graduation year at a Dutch Havo or VWO your endeavor is monitored by your tutors and a governmental board. Tests during the year at any given school can’t differ too much from the country wide exams without questions being asked by controlling authorities. The open question parts of final exams in may/june are scored by your own teacher as well as a qualified teacher from another school. And of course all exams are handed out at the same time to all students in a given subject. So far so good.

Then there is the middle section (MBO). My knowledge does not reach any further than the technical streams of training routes, but nevertheless…. At my company children are trained to be skilled steel construction workers, welders, pipe fitters, etc. They work four days a week and attend school one day. Of course I pay them all five days. After two years they graduate as well….

At school there are several theoretical tests. The teacher scores them and that’s it. Then there should be a portfolio spanning two years of drawings, theoretical questionnaires, hand made work objects and reports. The employer (also responsible for the technical part of the training) scores that part.

The third part is the technical exam. Many moons ago when I was a puppy, you had to go to a technical exam centre with marked steel items according to a list. At the centre you were handed a drawing and had to make an object according to that drawing in a given time. No errors to be erased by grabbing a new piece of steel from the stock. An exam committee judged your effort and scored it. So as well as for the higher theoretical levels of education the tutor wasn’t the scorer.

Last year one of my apprentices went for his final exams… His school filled me in: I was to give him an assignment which was going to be scored as an exam. Flabbergasted I asked his teacher how on earth in this global economy my work standard could be his exam level for the rest of his life. I ordered, and paid, an old – school technical exam from the internet. My apprentice wasn’t going to go to an exam centre teached his teacher me: my workshop was his exam ground (how about re cutting new material if things went wrong or help from fellow workers during the exam??? I asked, but had to find proper and honest answers myself).

Then when my apprentice finished his masterpiece I called school again: were to ship the results to be scored. Astonishment again on my side of the phone: I was the one who had to score this masterpiece. I ordered the teacher over and said that a. I was the tutor, and as a result not the judge, b. I only have one apprentice so can’t place his qualities in context and c. what if, for crying out loud, wasn’t pleased with my apprentice / employee? Teacher, astonished, scored the masterpiece.

But what’s the consequence of the value of a certification like this? How serious a parent, an aunt, or the student himself, can take a diploma this way? Would this influence the percentage of children choosing technical education routes? Can this be added to the reasons Waddell & Meyer give in their blog “Don’t let your babies grow up to be welders”.

About Herman

Herman Wagter writes on Dadamotive about facts and figures behind issues that interest him. His work as interim manager and consultant has involved him directly in the impact of hyperconnectivity and sustainability on society. As an independent agent and "mobile warrior" he has experienced the pro's and con's of how organizations and projects can be structured, and what the effects on the final result can be. In his opinion we are entering an era of profound change, driven by these fundamental forces. Following the trends, discovering the fun and debunking the half-truths is a passion he likes to share with others.
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