Tuesday 24 June 2014

The Car is the Classroom

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There are things we must know and understand.

Continuing with our look at Element 6.3.1. of the National standard for driver and rider training we must not hesitate to take a look at our knowledge and understanding of teaching driving head on. To kick off we need to make sure we are communicating properly with our pupils. With more people from overseas taking lessons it's important that we can assist in getting through the language barrier. Making eye contact is something I approach with a small amount of caution. Some people just don't like it. In a car our faces are pretty close together and it can seem a little threatening or overwhelming to some. It's good to offer eye contact and if the pupil does not reciprocate I just stop doing it and look at the diagrams instead. Worst of all are the ones who make eye contact while the car is moving at speed. I find this a bit scary and address the issue at once.
   Using consistent language is a good way to start a course of lessons. Especially when it comes to giving directions or referring to the controls. I like to keep these consistent but it's often better to talk to the pupil naturally once you have got to know them I think. Relating to people informally at times can help deepen the instructor pupil relationship. All my reviews come from the people I got chatty with rather than just using instructor language. It's all about adapting to your pupil. 
   When it comes to breaking subjects down and using diagrams I'm a big fan. I don't really consider a subject covered unless there's been some diagrammatic input but that's just me. I find that questions go hand in hand with a diagram. Inviting the pupil to draw on it to show what they think is a good technique.
   Setting out guidelines on acceptable behaviour in the car is not something I have considered doing. Most people behave themselves and I think I'd find it a bit patronising towards the client. What would be unacceptable behaviour anyway? You can't tell people how to dress or what words are unacceptable really. I suppose poor behaviour means smoking and eating. I'll allow for cigarette breaks during lessons if that's what the pupil wants but not in the car. Don't bring chips either.
   We are really entering the new age of awareness with the next item which is the effect of our own assumptions on particular groups and how they effect our ability to deliver effective learning. I am so guilty of doing this but like to think that I still do the job properly. There are certain areas of town where I pick people up who look a certain way and I'm already deciding that this is going nowhere. I'll just turn up one day and they won't be in. Not even bothering to call and cancel. Unfortunately these gut feelings often turn out to be true. As we are all people there will be these unspoken assumptions. It's part of who we are and how we view the world. I think if you are aware of your attitude towards others then it's quite easy to get round it and deliver a worthwhile lesson.
  There are a few more points which either repeat what has already been said or simply read as management gibberish before we reach the last point about exterior influences on the learner's attitude. This can be a big problem and unfortunately often comes from parents. They only had a certain number of lessons so that's all they're willing to pay for which makes me rush things. I've said something about real life driving and danger which has upset their precious offspring. it's stuff they need to know and if they can't handle a bit of reality then they shouldn't be driving at all. I have a job to do to produce safe and intelligent drivers and I aren't going to do it by avoiding the real life issues. So there. Next time we move on to the next element which is all about skills and techniques. Should be good.

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