Innate Understanding of the Job

When the mariner was entering the working world for the first time, he visited the state employment office. He was given an aptitude test and a dexterity test. It was only then that the counselor talked with him about jobs he may like and probably be successful at performing.

Years later, when he was applying for a computer programming job, again he was given an aptitude test to judge whether he had the wherewithal to perform in the strange world of programming.

Aptitude tests seem to have gone out of favor. Consider state Governors. Had Rick Snyder (R-Michigan) been required to take a public service aptitude test before he could be a politician, he would not have passed, could not have run for office, and would not have failed at a job for which he had no aptitude. Snyder’s ineptitude has cost his citizens beyond imagination. Poisoning an entire city to save a few million dollars is not the decision a Governor would have made had he had an innate understanding of the responsibilities of an elected politician.

Nor would he have dismissed a stellar staff at a retired veterans home and replaced them with the cheapest price contract he could find. An inspector who visited the home found unbelievable conditions ranging from broken backs to starvation. An ‘ept’ Governor would be happy that things were going well and left the situation alone. But Rick wanted to save a few dollars. By the way, the inspector was fired.

There are several more atrocities that his citizens suffered including a state school system that Snyder took personal charge of so the budget could be slashed. Some school buildings were finally condemned and the teacher payroll runs out of money in April; schools will close in Michigan in April – a bit early. Applied to all elected politicians, one wonders how government would operate if they had to demonstrate an innate understanding of the job with an aptitude test. Throw in the Supreme Court, too – aptitude tests would have to be given before one could apply for law school. By the time Justices are appointed, it’s too late.

The mariner knew a pastor who was bounced around districts of his diocese. Mariner was confident that the pastor had aspergers. Individuals with aspergers have no empathy. It didn’t take long for parishioners to suspect there was something wrong with their shepherd. The mariner has experienced inept pastors on several occasions. Clearly, the Diocese needs a further screening process to filter those who should not be pastors. It is a job requiring several nuanced skills and judgment besides being able to shake a Bible at a church service.

Every reader can offer an example or two or three of an inept manager. The answer is an aptitude test to screen for leadership skills and an innate understanding of what it is a manager is really supposed to do.

Further, school boards attack the ‘quality teacher’ issue by imposing more and more constraints on teacher behavior, lesson content, and whether they have earned sufficient IEUs – an educationist’s approach to competence. The issue can be resolved quickly by requiring an aptitude test during the college curriculum. And, having added a stiff requirement that weeds out inept teachers, a fifty percent raise may also be required to attract ‘ept’ teachers to pursue the teaching profession.

Mariner could go on: How about aptitude tests for would be parents? Policemen? Might we install a breed of policeman that likes people for a change? What aptitude test does the reader wish they had taken before they ended up being dissatisfied and inept?


Amos is always complaining about the laxity with which Americans enunciate or obliterate their language. Amos warns that already, American English is worse than French when it comes to disparity between spelling and enunciation. He picked this off the Internet: There is nothing hard about saying the French word for “son,” which is pronounced “feess”—until you see it written down: fils. Try these: bidness, cannidate, close (clothes), decrepid, drownd, Febuary, and so on. See:

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Ancient Mariner

2 thoughts on “Innate Understanding of the Job

  1. Giving aptitude tests to public servants before their appointments is a great idea. Now about current English pronunciation. I’m afraid Mariner is trying to stop a flood by putting his finger in the dike; it just won’t work. The Academie Française has tried without success for years to stem the flow of English borrowings in French. The phonetic processes that create pronunciations startlingly different from English spellings have been going on for years. Our spelling lags about 5 or 6 hundred years behind our pronunciations. That being said, I’m as upset about it as the AM. What really annoys me is the disappearing of final -D as in “ditn’t” for “didn’t” and my own name as “Hetlee.” What to do?

  2. The problem with aptitude tests is that they are only as good as the people who formulate them. In my trade, the heating and air conditioning industry, apprentices are now required to pass an exam before receiving their journeyman papers. The problem is the test questions do not contain the correct answers in a multiple choice format. I teach at our union apprenticeship training school using textbooks that are abysmal due to the order of and sometimes entire absence of subject matter which I deem necessary after 37 years in the trade. These textbooks were assembled by the same “experts” who formulated the aptitude tests.

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