Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Well, bugger me sideways!

He passed!

Nah. Just kidding.

Just as in the mock test, he failed to give anything like a proper briefing on the phase one part, and never got to grips with things in the phase two.

Result? A 2-2, just like on the mock.

This means I guaged things correctly, which is good to know.

I got a text stating that he plans to do his second attempt in Liverpool. If you're struggling to spit out the words on roads you're familiar with, doing your test on roads you don't know is going to be that much harder. I've told him that if he plans to do his test over the water, he will need to find a Liverpool based trainer, who knows the roads, as it would take a lot of time to get there and back from here, and I don't know the roads that well. I will not be going over to Liverpool with him. That's absolutely certain.

But why do such a thing?

To get from where he is now to where he needs to be is a huge task. A massive effort is needed to make the required changes. Faced with this, and unable to recognise his own deficiencies, this is a displacement activity. Make inconsequential changes instead of getting to grips with the changes that need to be made.

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Tuesday, 17 November 2015


Having been busy for a long time past, it's been a while since I bothered seeing how things are going with my website.

When it first went live, it shot up to almost the top of page one for google searches for "driving lessons wallasey" and stayed there.

But now, I have to go to about page 6, regardless of which browser I use. Ditto Hoylake, and any other relevent search I can think of. There are sites for instructors that left the profession several years ago ahead of me in the listings. I wonder what's happened.

It doesn't matter too much at the moment. I'm getting enough work through word of mouth, but one of the trainees plans to work with me when he's qualified, and I will need to generate pupils again when and if this happens.

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Monday, 16 November 2015


Let's just imagine that instead of teaching people how to drive (and teaching people how to teach people how to drive) I teach people how to dance.

One day, I get an email from someone who desperately wants to learn how to dance.
He's desperate. He wants it so so badly. He's prepared to pay good money. He's been turned down by 29 different dancing teachers, but he's heard that I'm a total hotshot when it comes to getting people dancing.

I agree to give him a lesson and find that  he has only got one leg, and a withered one at that.

Well, ok. Maybe we can somehow incorporate his crutch into his moves? If he's keen enough, why should only having one leg be an obstacle?

Over the next few lessons, it becomes apparent that he's also as deaf as a post, and can't hear the music, and is unable to learn the moves unless I write them down and point to them at the appropriate time with a pointy stick.

Ah. I can see I have my work cut out for me here, but hey! Wouldn't it be a coup? If I could get this guy dancing, wouldn't that make me just awesome?

So we carry on with the lessons, and find that he has problems with his vestibular system that mean he has severe problems with balance, and would probably keep falling over even if he had two fully formed legs.

But my one legged deaf dancer has staked a lot on this, and has spent quite a lot of money already. He's also decided that he wants to make a living as a dancer, and has quit his day job in anticipation. He has every faith in me. He shows me pictures of his wife and children. They look up at me with beseeching eyes. The kind of dancing he wants to do involves swinging buckets of sulphuric acid around, and if he gets things wrong, he might just kill or injure himself or his dancing partner, or a member of the audience.

There is of course, an ethical question here. The best dance teacher in the universe is not going to turn this person into a professional dancer, even if the wannabe dancer spends all of his life savings and ten years of his life on the project.

So is my job to do try to help him achieve his dreams to the best of my ability? Or should I tell him that I doubt anyone can help him, and refuse to take the gig? And at what point does the former become the latter? The warning signs were there, even before I'd met him for the first time. Why had he been turned away by all those others?


My first trainee instructor has until January 2nd to pass his teaching test. He gets three attempts to do so, and the third and final attempt must be booked before then, although if the date of the third attempt is later than that, the DSA will honour it as long as it was booked and paid for before the cutoff date. His first attempt is this coming Wednesday. Today he did a mock test. I did my best to put myself in the role of an examiner, who is himself in the role of a learner, and we did a full blown mock test.

The teaching test is in two parts. For the first part, the examiner will play the role of someone who hasn't done a particular thing before. After half an hour, that part of the test ends, and the examiner becomes someone who has done a particular thing before, but who may not be able to do it particularly well. Each part of the test is graded, and the overall result is two numbers. X/Y

Here are the criteria: To become a fully qualified instructor, at least a 4/4 has to be obtained.

Grade 6 - A very high standard with no significant instructional weaknesses
Grade 5 - A good overall performance with some minor weaknesses in instructional technique
Grade 4 - Competent performance with some minor deficiencies in instructional technique
Grade 3 - Inadequate overall performance with some deficiencies in instructional technique
Grade 2 - A poor overall performance with numerous deficiencies in instructional technique
Grade 1 - Overall standard of instruction extremely poor or dangerous

I gave my trainee a 2/2 but that was being generous. He needed to go through it in some detail with the person who'd never done it before, but had no words and gave up, instead electing to try to do it all on the fly. The pupil was being told to check his mirrors, without knowing what mirrors to check, to sort out his position, without knowing what that position should be, to slow down without any idea of what speed was required, and to change gear without knowing what gear to go into. The scope for mayhem was vast, and mayhem duly ensued. This is something that has happened before, when we've been training. He gave up on the briefing, and I drove on the edge of recklessness. I bollocked him for it too. To no avail. He's not going to miraculously acquire the extra leg or functioning set of ears that he needs, and no amount of training from me or anyone else is going to make any difference.

He's already stated that if he does fail, he intends to start the process again, but when (not if) that happens, I will have to tell him that I can take him no further.

I'm really not looking forward to it.


And now his car has broken down. To get a replacement, he's signed up as a franchisee with a driving school. Because of the way he is, he's vulnerable to people for whom the bottom line is all that matters. It would have been simpler and cheaper to contact a specialist car hire company and get a temporary vehicle for until his own car was mended. I don't know the precise details of what he's arranged, but he still intends to do his training with me.

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