I find I must be very careful when looking at posts on Facebook and other social media. You see, every time I look, I see one post or another where the information is quite wrong or often just crazy.
Instructors who openly admit to having not looked at a Highway Code since passing their own L-Test and others who seem to get so rude if you don’t agree with them. But I want to concentrate today’s article on the technical information of teaching and information that we cascade to our learners.
I picked up a very useful term for Facebook from my business mentors John Lamerton and Jason Brockman, who once described Facebook as ‘an echo chamber’. They were explaining that, for example, if you were to like posts about ‘blue’ and not ‘red’ then Facebook will simply show you more ‘blue’ posts. Facebook notices the content you read, and shows you more posts of the same nature.
Now, like John I’ve used colours in this example, but you can apply it to any subject you like. To get a fuller, more rounded and objective picture, you need to ‘Like’ and read posts that you maybe do not agree with in principle, but might like the professionalism or dedication to the actual content.
I do not like football, never have and I doubt I ever will (why do I now sound like Jethro?), but an instructor of mine is a mad Manchester United supporter. I often ‘Like’ her posts because I see her dedication to her sport and team.
I have spent many years ‘rescuing’ driving instructors for their Part Three or Standards Tests. It’s usually clear to see that their trainers have been given so much poor advice and training. I often wonder how this is. But I know from the research I did for my Masters Degree, that very few instructor trainers had undertaken any further training themselves since passing their own Part Three. They were and are for that matter, passing on the training that was given to them.
Oddly, most instructors felt that the training they received was very poor. The trainee comes along and absorbs all this information because it sounds about right, and then accidentally passes the Part Three by hook or by crook and goes on to pass this information on. And around it goes again.
Let me give an example. Our learners will often believe anything we tell them. Imagine telling your pupil that they MUST signal every time they move off – or as you approach every junction the first thing you do is put the clutch down. Now I suspect most learners would go along with that, it sounds reasonable. So test time comes, not one instance where the examiner can unfortunately record a misleading signal fault and all the junctions were busy with traffic and the clutch was not picked up. That learner goes on to drive like that thinking “thats the way it’s done” – after all they passed their test, and the examiner didn’t say anything. No police have ever stopped them, must be right.
This leads us back to the big question. How will you know you can trust your trainer? Is what you read on the forum correct? So many sound plausible. Take the article currently running about Standards Test. A question on a forum asks for comments about the Standards Check ‘was the agreed lesson structure appropriate for the pupils’ level of experience and ability’. A few are spot on, but some have got the units confused and some are so wrong. A reply to my example of “like teaching a manoeuvre before establishing good clutch control” was met with “Manoeuvres are sometimes used to develop clutch control” or words to that effect.
I have spoken to many senior examiners and high-level DVSA personnel and one of the reasons that very unit is in the Standards Test form is because of the many instructors who would bring pupils to the Standards Check without having established good clutch control.
But to the layman it sounds reasonable. A quite road, a turn in the road – why not practice clutch control here?
So, WHY NOT?
Well, we all know that the quiet road suddenly becomes as busy as the M4 as soon as the pupil moves. Suddenly the pupil is worried about not dry steering, not hitting the curb, “OMG there’s a bus coming and now a taxi and I can’t get this clutch right” as the panic sets in. During the ‘Options’ stage of GROW (if you’re unfamiliar with GROW, check out the super-useful training video for this) you should think – what skills would you like your pupil to have before carrying out a manoeuvre? I’m not answering that one for you because that’s for your pupil to answer (and guess what, they will tell you.)
So what I’m saying is, treat social media advice with a pinch of salt. Yes they might throw up some nuggets but check the nuggets first. Check out the person who’s posting and find out:
- Do they know what they are talking about?
- What credentials would you like your trainer or mentor to have before you put your trust in what they say?
- Where could you find that information yourself?
- And what will you do with it?
P.S: Your future might depend on who it is you take your advice from.
Got thoughts on this? Leave a comment below!
Dave Foster MA, Dip.DI (or Driving School Dave) is the most qualified driving school owner in the country, after completing his Master’s Degree in Driver Training Education in 2011 at Middlesex University. He also holds a diploma in Driving Instruction and is a Cert Ed. qualified teacher. Dave is the founder and Managing Director of 1st 4 Driving Ltd, and also looks after over 15 driving schools across the country on a consultancy basis.