To get the best out of people, you need to be able to do a range of things.
You need to be able to earn their respect if they're going to listen to you; and that means that sometimes, there has to be a degree of assertiveness in there.
In a sense, to be a driving instructor is to be a salesman. Not in the obvious small businessman sense of running your own small trader self employed business, but because you're selling ideas.
Much of what I teach is counter-intuitive, and I've sometimes had to fight my pupils to convince them that what I'm trying to teach them is correct. If you're not a driving instructor or a learner driver (people who've been driving for a while forget), then something as obvious as "you should look where you're going" makes no sense. To a learner, the place to look is to the right, to see what's coming. To me, it doesn't matter what's coming, if you haven't put yourself in the right place, at the right speed, in the right gear, with the wheels turned to the right place, and with your feet in the right place to make the car go, when you do look right, and find that you have a space to move in to.
Occasionally this job is downright dangerous, although probably less than you'd imagine. The one thing that really causes a problem is panic ---> Slam on the brakes. That's the one thing I can't prevent. So far, I've never been rear-ended because of it, although there have been a few close calls. The accidents I have had have almost always been due to other people going into the back of my car because they're looking right, instead of looking where they're going. Didn't their instructors teach them about it?
Instinct is sometimes far inferior to intellect, and to convince my clients of it, I sometimes need to incorporate a bit of steel.
Anyway, the other night, I took someone out for an instructor training session. As I mentioned in a recent post, this person didn't seem ideally suited to the role, but without ever meeting him, I couldn't really form a judgement. I tried unsuccessfully to train someone from scratch to be an instructor, but it didn't happen. If I'd done things differently, it might have been different, and i've gnawed upon that particular bone for a good few hours over the last few months. I made mistakes, and destroyed my client's confidence. Why wouldn't I? I'd never done it before, and if I'm going to branch out from the role of teacher to that of teacher of teacher of teachers, I'm going to find both transferrable skills, and weaknesses in my methods and knowledge base.
The training session went quite well. The feedback I got was positive. My pupil was about what I expected. Essentially bookbound. This is inevitable. To teach, you have to know, and when you first start, you need the props. My wannabe instructor, who'd come across as something of an oddball from what I'd seen on the internet, turned out to be a nice guy, who was trying very hard. There's a lot of work to be done, but I can work with that. Nice guy, trying hard. That's not at all a bad starting point.
My job though, to get him through his teaching test, is to bring out his personality, and to kick away the props, so that he's not totally flummoxed by the first left field question the examiner asks.
To give him some idea, I want to get him to sit in on some lessons, just to see how fluid things are, and how the specifics are both vital and irrelevent. I need to know the specifics, but I don't always need to do more than note the deviations.
There's even a bit of deviousness, of dishonesty going on here. He thinks he's learning from me. In fact, I'm learning from him at the same time. It takes me back a decade. When I first started doing this job, I was doing the same thing with my pupils. Getting paid to learn. I still am to some extent. The day I stop doing so is the day I stop becoming a better instructor.
Respect, by the way, to Simon Cowell. While the other judges were making the ostensibly benign decision to put this guy through to the next round, so that the public could take the piss twice, he was equally ostensibly making the villainous decision to put him out of his misery.
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