Monday, 28 September 2015

And then there were three...


Three trainee instructors.Bip. Bam. Bop. Three. Michael, Steve and Helen

Helen contacted me via my website last week, and I called her back very shortly afterwards.

She's just moved back to Wirral after living in Cambridge and getting some instructor training there. She wasn't sure if she wanted to continue training, and had a lot of questions. I asked her to come along to our session today (now yesterday - the midnight oil has been burning for a couple of hours now)

Because I wanted to involve her right from the off (and the other trainee present, Steve) I sent them out together to do a brief assessment drive. This is something that could easily have backfired. I sent someone I've never met before out on a drive with a man she didn't know. I'd given it all quite a lot of thought in the days before Sunday, and had planned to leave Steve at the car park, and take her out myself, before getting Steve to duplicate the exercise with me sitting in the back watching, but it somehow came out wrong, and it happened otherwise.

And it turned out to be serendipitous, largely due to Steve's natural affinity for the role. His instructions were clear. He was able to answer her questions ably, and the feedback generated from this drive will have bolstered Steve's confidence. Steve's assessment of her driving was positive also, and this has helped Helen to feel more confident about her suitability for the role, and her ability to deal with the tests that will lie in front of her if she ultimately decides to pursue this career.

There is work to be done here. Steve is already a professional driver (of buses and coaches) Helen lacks confidence, and her driving will need some work to get her to the standard required to get her through her advanced driving test.

Helen brackets Steve and Michael. Steve is a very good fit for the role. Michael is the squarest of pegs attempting to mould himself into a round hole. Helen is somewhere in the middle.

And for now, this role of instructor is not as profitable as my usual line of work, but it adds diversity, and I'm thoroughly enjoying doing it. I'm charging far less than most, if not all training organisations, and the £30 that Steve gives me for my 4 hours work is far less than the usual £24/hour I charge. But what if ten people are giving me £30 for that time? If it gets to that point, then I will employ another qualified instructor, and pay them for the time they're spending at my beck and call, but if I give them £100, I end up with £200 for 4 hours work.

That's where I plan to be in a year or two. Or less. It might well be worth paying Google, and/or my web guy some serious money to make this happen.

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Sunday, 6 September 2015


Coaching is a teaching method that is non-authoritarian.

Rather than the Instructor setting the agenda, it is characterised by the instructor asking the pupil what they think they need to work on.

Another way of doing it is to have no plan, but to just go and do stuff until errors are generated, and then to deal with those errors, effectively targeting the tuition where it is needed.

So that's something I've tried to incorporate into my methods for some time now.

Years ago, I read Luke Rhinehart's vaguely autobiographical book, "The Dice man".

The premise is simple. He dictates what options he gives to the dice, but he obeys what the dice select from the options he gives them without question or hesitation. The point being to have experiences that he would never have considered having. For good or ill.

If you haven't read it, I think it's a good read. A classic of late 60's US counterculture literature.

Anyway, put the two things above together, and you get to incorporating randomness, quite deliberately, into driving lessons.

For example:

Plug in the satnav, select a nearby town, then ask the pupil to pick a letter, then another letter. Then see what roads come up. There might be one. There might be twenty one. A number is picked at random, and the corresponding road is driven to by following the route shown by the satnav, and anything that occurs on the way is grist to my mill.

This places the onus squarely on the pupil to drive as independently as possible, while pinpointing real world weaknesses in their techniques. Plus, it's fun. And sometimes, it gives me a clear idea of what I need to do with them next lesson. Hence it's not something I'd do all the time. It's something to be mixed with other more structured lessons.

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Saturday, 5 September 2015



[mahy-gruh nt]

migrating, especially of people; migratory.

a person or animal that migrates


[ref-yoo-jee, ref-yoo-jee]
a person who flees for refuge or safety, especially to a foreign country, as in time of political upheaval, war, etc.

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