Processing Defective Work

B picI worked two and a half years in a factory that manufactures automobile torsion bars – part of a car’s suspension system so that you, the driver, enjoy a smoother, safer ride. Out of any 100 bars, a few probably didn’t meet quality standards and got placed on the rack affectionately dubbed “rework.” At the end of a shift, or during down time, those bars got reworked or scrapped.

Being a student means dealing with rework, whatever the class. The key is to do the rework before a test or before that paper is due. This is akin to reworking torsion bars before shipping them to an assembly plant. Companies lose a lot of money when issuing a recall, not to mention the safety hazards.quality-control

Most students have experienced the shock of a low grade on a test or paper, maybe multiple times. Hurt pride is likely the most damage at this point, as well as a prod to recognize rework situations before test time, or a paper’s due date. School is the place where rework is perhaps most common and most expected. Trial and error become a way of life while learning the safe zone for errors, so that later, when more is at stake, things will be done correctly, especially when your body parts are affected.

safezone_thumbStudents enjoy the safe zone. It sets the tone on boundaries and allows for imperfection or even safe failure. Instructors gauge their discipline to see how much of a zone to allow for rework. The zone needs to be loose enough for a sense of trial and error, but tight enough so that the instructor doesn’t agree to grade everything twice because students become conditioned to put forth a sloppy effort on first go at a task.

You often hear of the “learning curve.” That is a wonderful construct. One of the most interesting aspects of school or the workforce is a study of the learning curve – what can be tolerated as the margin of error before playing for keeps. No book anywhere can define all of that; it’s situational, and this is why life is either maddening or glorious.




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