Intelligence, Performance, Qualification and Competence Certification (Summary) Raimundo Brígido The degree or certificate has always been a symbol of success in school life. It has also meant a potential confirmation of occupational qualification. Taylor and Ford models of mass production made possible the incorporation of industry workers as consumers of the products that they were producing. In this way new opportunities emerged for non-doctoral occupations: technical occupations. The technical schools of secondary and higher level appeared. Peter Drucker points out that the low prestige of the engineering and the technician in England delayed the industrial revolution a few decades. It was at that time that the concept of intelligence arose in Western society. It is a concept invented by Western culture and it is related to the capacity to solve relatively non- important problems without mistake in a quick way. The English expression “time is money” defines this concept of time-commodity. In other cultures this has not got any meaning. In the indigenous Brazilian cultures, for instance, it is not possible to express “I have not got time.” In these cultures the verb to have does not exist, because the concept of property does not exist. Intelligence, if we can call it that way, can only be legitimated in a group context as the efficiency someone shows in situations of collective action like hunting and war. There is not a sense of competition. This is so extended that they adapted the football game to tribal rules making impossible that a team wins over another. The game can only finish with a draw because the victory of a group over another would undermine tribal unity, which is necessary to struggle against nature. The need to appraise the capacities of one person in relation to others was due to the increase of competition among workers. This can be sad but is a fact of reality. It was in 1870 when England introduced the written exams that existed in ancient China. Before that sponsors with prestige within the elite selected the officials and their promotions followed age criteria instead of competence proof. This movement towards the technical legitimisation shows the arrival of meritocracy in detriment of the old aristocratic clientelism. Meritocracy is also a subproduct of the Industrial Revolution and brought the admission exams, which were until that moment restricted to the school setting, to the world of work. So, at the end of the XIX century, the vocational schools appeared with the objective of preparing the poor for industrial work. It was in this context of industrialisation, development and competition that concepts such as intelligence coefficient, skill analysis, occupational appraisal, competence appraisal and others emerged. The war contributed much to the development of the comportamental technologies. The techniques of transference of knowledge from the specialist to the beginners were improved. In a short time a beginner could be trained practically as a specialist. Those techniques of skill analysis were adopted by the vocational training institutions on peacetime. In 1959, after the shock caused by the Sputnik, the United States worried about loosing technological leadership, mobilised its scientists to meet with educators in the Conference of Woods Hole, Massachusetts to discuss how to improve the teaching of sciences in primary and secondary schools. The result of that meeting is a historical document, edited by Jerome Bruner, titled “The Process of Education” in which appears the concept of “cultivation of excellence”. As a consequence, doctoral dissertation and academic research made important contributions to the development of learning theories and curricular development. By the end of the sixties and beginning of the seventies something started to sound wrong in the solid industrial system based in the scientific organisation of production. The low performance of the American automobile industry compared to the Japanese one started to worry the American government. In 1968, Benjamin S. Bloom published in the University of California the article “Learning to master” showing that 90 to 95% of all students have possibilities of learning everything they are taught if the right conditions are offered and they satisfied the minimum requirements. Time was not important, because each person learns at his/her own pace. For the first time the dogma of velocity, typical of the intelligence concept, was broken. Slow people can be now considered among the intelligent since they can achieve the objectives of learning. As a consequence of these works, the movement call “competence-based learning” emerged in that decade. This movement introduced the concept of modular training in the training process. While the Taylor –Ford model of task fragmentation and plan production had generated the skill model; the Toyota model of production had generated the competence model. Things are not that simple. The competence model has many causal origins: 1. The need for international quality standards; 2. Excessive competitivity in a globalized world; 3. The quick obsolescence of some occupations affected by new technologies; 4. The new production standards that require less prescriptive skills and establish a higher level of requirements; 5. The shift from the focus on the job and fragmented tasks towards polyvalence and collective production with integrated tasks; 6. The new criteria of vocational certification based in benchmarks of performance. The introduction of competence standards at the international level has not been quietly accepted in the educational settings. Paul Vedder from the Educational Research Institute of Holland considers that these global measures, which require quality in education and are implemented in a context of high competitivity, are working against the quality of education. This appears clearer in less developed areas. The tendency towards global homogenisation of currila is creating a wrong interpretation of the need of standardisation extending standardisation to educational contents. Vedder points out that the development of global measuring systems only pays attention to what is common to all cultures but forgets about what is unique and original. The global curriculum resulting from those certification patterns will make learning difficult and as a consequence will not contribute to culture diversity but to isolation, low self esteem, in other words, exclusion.
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