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Man Without Test Score Thinks Critically, Helps Stranded Motorist

October 23, 2022

My starter is going out on my car. When electrical parts are on the way out, the exact moment at which they will finally fail is a crap shoot. I have an appointment to have the part replaced, but not for a few days. I care for my mother on weekends, and since my car started on Saturday morning, I took the hour-plus drive to her home to help her, happy to know if my car failed to start when I tried to leave that she would have been cared for and ready to face another week.

I planned my weekend and early week so that I only needed my car to start once more– just once more– and that upon leaving my mother’s house on Saturday.

Well. After numerous tries, I could not get it to start. The starter would frequently engage, but just shy of getting the engine to turn over.

I called my brother, who is a commercial fisherman and quite skilled with engines, and asked if he might try to get my car to start.

It took an hour and 40 minutes, and he and my nephew did get that starter to engage just enough to make my engine turn over just once more.

His idea? Connecting jumper cables from his truck to my battery to try to boost the juice in the battery to compensate for the weak starter response. He thought to try this because he could not reach the starter, which on my vehicle is situated right in the center of the engine.

Regarding his battery-jolt idea: “It could take a long time,” he told me, “but that *&^% is so close to turning over.”

A lot of time passed.

After over an hour and a half of trying to no avail, I was on the phone with a wrecker service to two my car roughly 65 miles to my mechanic in my town of residence.

While I was on the phone, my nephew continued trying to crank my car.

I had just hung up. And then, it happened.

My car started Just Once More.

I canceled the wrecker and ran the remainder of my errands getaway-car style, leaving the engine running at purposely-selected locations (to best avoid car theft), until I finally parked it in my hometown at my mechanic’s shop.

The brother who helped me in this very practical and critical way hated going to high school. Hated it. It was hard enough to get him to graduate at 19 years old.

There is no way he would care about taking an ACT, or Work Keys test, so that a school could get points toward its letter grade.

He would not have cared that graduating in four years would have garnered more points toward a school grade than graduating in five years. He was on the edge of not caring about graduating at all.

And yet, he runs his own commercial fishing business, and when it comes to engines and construction, he has a critical-thinking sixth sense.

Ah, but as for planning: My brother is not a planner. In fact, it makes him nutty that I am so organized, but even that has its place. My strategic planning is how I organized my errands to require the fewest starts for my unreliable car until it could be repaired. So I, who loved school and who scored the highest on my ACT and held the second-highest GPA in my high school class, had made a complicated situation as streamlined as possible with needing that Just One More Start.

Both types of individuals are necessary for making this journey through life as smooth as possible.

Neither one should be used in the objectifying, dehumanizing, and, frankly, asinine task of “grading” schools.


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  1. Daedalus permalink

    Excellent article. As it turns out, many brilliant people (with superior critical thinking skills) either don’t, or barely to get a High School Degree. I have two contiguous neighbors that fit the pattern. One is an absolute master at designing and implementing any project involving excavation, or laying foundations, or creating driveways. He is brilliant, and knows more about that stuff than anyone else I know. He never graduated from High School. Another created a hugely successful tree service business. He got kicked out of school in the third grade (he was dyslexic) and learned to read in prison. Both of these people left a thriving business to their children.

    In some respects, our ‘school system’ failed them, however inn another they may have been saved from the ‘system’. Instead of ‘working for’ someone else, they created their own space.

    Back in the ‘old days’, I was required to take ‘shop’ classes. I eventually got a degree in Astronomy, however even in the observatory I found those ‘shop classes’ to be of value. Factoring polynomial equations ? Not so much.

  2. Alan J. Singer permalink

    Excellent post!

    Alan Singer, Director, Secondary Education Social Studies Teaching Learning Technology 290 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549 (P) 516-463-5853 (F) 516-463-6196

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    “Nations reel and stagger on their way; they make hideous mistakes; they commit frightful wrongs; they do great and beautiful things. And shall we not best guide humanity by telling the truth about all this, so far as the truth is ascertainable?” W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America (1935)

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