School: Preparing Us for the Real World as Mechanics

May 7, 2008
By Shannon Behm, Papillion, NE

I always used to think about which jobs I might pursue when I get older. I wanted a dream job, one where I wouldn’t have to do a ton of work but still get paid well. Then it came to me, a mechanic! Why not? I’ve been training for it my entire life. Not just me, but every student I know has been through this training. Mechanics don’t have to do amazing work but they are still paid well. Just as students don’t have to do amazing school work, but we still receive high grades.
To have a better understanding of this clear comparison just analyze each first impression. When meeting a customer a mechanic wants to create a good impression. Nice, reliable, and hardworking, someone the customer feels he or she can really trust; this is also true for a student. The student always wants to make a good impression on their teacher, after all this is the person who determines their grade. This first impression can really work in favor of the friendly auto mechanic. If someone is referred to a reliable mechanic with the notion that the work they have done will be just as good as the referral’s, the customer isn’t going to argue this point or refuse to pay the amount asked, which is price-tagged way above the quality of work actually done, even if the repair doesn’t fit the reputation. This same situation is true for a student. If he or she is able to set a good first impression or have the reputation of a straight "A" student it’s easy going from there. This means the student can get away with poor if not terrible work. No teacher wants to tarnish a golden reputation, so they just put a coveted above average A on truly average C work.
So the mechanic goes on receiving good pay but not doing the work to
match. If a mechanic can tell that a customer doesn’t know a whole lot about cars, the mechanic might not actually fix the problem; but he shows some work so he is still paid. This happened when my mom took her car in to have the squeaky brakes looked at. When we came back to pick up the vehicle it appeared that work had been done, so the mechanic was paid. But by the time we got home the squeak was back! So the mechanic was able to slide by with cash in his pocket and no sweat on his brow. The same goes for a student, getting away without really doing any work. We’ve all done it, we know that our teacher is only going to check and see if the work is done, so we just scribble down some random thoughts to make it appear we have done the homework. The teacher gives us a high grade and we slide by once again.
Everyone would have to agree that the worst part about going to a mechanic is the price inflation. When comparing the price of the parts needed for a repair with those a mechanic charges, there’s a huge difference! When I have to change the oil or air filter in my car the price at a store isn’t bad, but when the parts are coming from a mechanic the prices skyrocket. Just like grade inflation. When comparing the quality of work done by a student with the grades given by the teacher, there’s a huge difference! Studies have actually shown that the average grade given to students is a B, which according to the grade scale is above average, so there must be some sort of inflation going on. It also seems that of the price a mechanic charges, a bulk of it is based on labor, even if the problem isn’t fixed. This is similar to grades. The bulk of a grade is based on effort instead of knowledge or comprehension; this is most visible in a completion grade. There is no comprehension necessary; just complete the assignment and receive a high grade. This actually happens in my science class, if we have a worksheet assigned I could have absolutely no clue what is going on, but I at least try, so my grade comes back as full credit because I put forth some effort or at least the amount of energy needed to fill out the worksheet. Even though I don’t comprehend the material, my grade shows that I do.
I had always thought the life of a mechanic would be dirty and not really for me, but the more I think about it we as students all have some experience at scamming. The only big change would be swapping out my pencils for wrenches. Oh yeah, and instead of inflated grades, I’ll be receiving inflated paychecks!

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