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Gav's Musings


All in a days work (04/12/15)

Just thought I'd share my day with you; not a typical day but noteworthy none the less.

Lesson 1: Turns out my student was taking mineral and vitamin supplements as prescribed by their doctor. They decided for some reason to take 2 doses this day so after the first hour they weren't feeling too good. Quick exit of the car and they were physically sick multiple times behind the car infront of someones driveway.

I happen to carry a 2 gallon jug of water for when the windows need a quick clean on a dirty day. This came in handy to clean the entrance to the house!

Student felt much better afterwards and continued the lesson like nothing had happened.

Lesson 2: Uneventful - coaching as usual.

Lesson 3: Found a screw in the front tyre when performing parking manoeuvres. Moments later the screw was pulled out of the tyre whilst turning and the air escaped very quickly. I got my screwdriver out and screwed the screw back in to the tyre to plug the hole; inflated the tyre with my compressor. Zipped round the corner to the tyre place, a 15 minute pause in the lesson ensued, puncture fixed, lesson back on now finishing 15 minutes later than normal.

Good excuse to provide some theory and discuss what had happened so far in the lesson anyway..... Also explained what all the tyre ratings are about as well!

Lesson 4: Night time now and we were discussing the "Show me tell me" questions and the background to it all. Finished that and found that I had managed to flatten the battery by having the lights on and using electrics etc.

A learning opportunity presenting itself, 2 minutes later the car is up and running and now we've had the opportunity to learn how you bump start a car! Nice!

I love this job; it turns up something most days! 3 things in one day to go slightly against plans and all successfully dealt with with little fuss and bother; and 2 of those situations allowed for additional knowledge transfer to boot!


Question everything to improve yourself (25/11/15)

On Monday just gone I went to Birmingham for a training course on coaching.

Coaching is the new way of teaching people to drive being pushed by the government and to be fair I think it's a good idea. I have been on numerous courses about this and I mainly used the course on Monday as a sanity check to make sure I was still up to date and working well.

Well I'm pleased to say that I had no surprises and did learn a few things about body language and human nature. The day gave me confidence that how I work at the moment is what is required and that I am doing everything they want us to do.

This day obviously meant that I met quite a few other driving instructors and talking to them I found that there is a lack of understanding about knowledge; let me explain.

Sure, they all know how to park a car or approach junctions. Some were going on about the different routines that they were taught to teach and lots were coming up with horror stories about things that have happened to them on lessons.

I got the impression though that the majority seemed to miss the point about WHY things are. They are told something and don't appear to question why things are that way.

Someone was complaining that it's hard to overcome parents teachings when they clash with what we teach. They struggled or found that pupils had one set of rules when they drove with a parent and one set for an instructor. The example given was block changing down gears.

Block changing is when we go from a high gear, say 5th to a low gear like 2nd or 1st and miss out 3rd and 4th. Most parents were taught to go through the gears 5,4,3,2,1 then to drive. The solution they came up with was to say that the parents were wrong and we block change now.

How does that help the student? They now have 2 instructions and no way of deciding which is best.

Coaching is about facilitating the learner to formulate their own ideas and come up with solutions to their problems. If we tell someone the pros and cons of doing something they will invariably take the logical path.

The reason we used to go down gears was because brakes on cars were rubbish, engine braking was immense due to the rubbish oils we used. The engine braking compensated for the poor brakes so that we could stop sooner. Modern cars can all stop the wheels if we hit the brakes hard enough regardless of your speed and you can't stop faster than that! The oils we use in cars is miles better now and the amount of engine braking we now have is minimal.

We simply don't need to use engine braking to compensate for poor brakes anymore. As we all know though, if you use something, it will incurr wear and damage over time. To extend the life of your car, don't use something if you don't need to use it; afterall a set of brake pads can be £40, a new clutch is £1000.

Now if the pupil was told this, they could formulate a reason as to what they choose to do, they may even convert their parents to the new way of doing things. This is human nature I'm afraid; most people don't question things - they just do something because it's always been done that way.

We all guilty of it, instructors teach things that are rigid or pointless, students who just take their word for it and never question what is being taught.

There is a saying:
Tell me, I’ll forget
Show me, I’ll remember
Involve me, I’ll understand

So telling someone doesn't really help; sure a quick solution to a problem can be easily given by telling them but if it's a bit more indepth, letting them work it out with gentle nudging in the right direction works much better in the long term and the student has a sense of achievement as a bonus.

Involve your students in the learning process don't just tell them stuff, if they want that, they could buy a book!

I'm always hearing about other instructors saying that you should approach roundabouts in 2nd gear and time and time again I see this from students who have had previous instruction. I ask them why this is, they don't know. I then ask them if they would use 2nd gear if they decided to safely go through a roundabout at 60 and they say no.

This instantly proves that so called rules are being taught but with no understanding as to why. I imagine that that the instructors would start to wonder about what they are teaching if they actually were interested in what they were doing and were self aware.

What I teach now and how I teach it has changed over the years; I've adapted and assessed what I've taught and watched the outcomes. My pass rates and statistics have steadily improved year on year and I now have more recommendations than i know what to do with - which is FANTASTIC by the way; thank you all!

I am still teaching people how to drive but how I do it and maybe the angle I come from is different for each person.

Is it any wonder that only 25% of people pass first time nationally? My students are nearly 90% because they think and have an understanding of why we do something. If they want to learn how to bay park for example; i show them 4 different ways and ask them to come up with they own solution. They can do a combination if they want to.

People need to look at the big picture and come up with their own solutions. There isn't one solution to anything in driving; everything is situation dependent so unless you can adapt and think on your feet you're in trouble.


I know I'm going to have road rage when I pass! (16/11/15)

I've recently been teaching a young lady about how to deal with meeting others on the road, and she said 'I know I'm going to have road rage when I pass; it's my right of way so I won't budge if it's their fault'.

We are all trying to get from A to B with the minimum of fuss. We don't all want to come into conflict with others or cause arguments.

I often think that people missunderstand the 'right of way'. 'It's my right of way; they should give way to me!' The right of way is just purely which roads are you allowed to drive/walk/ride on. Some roads do not allow motor vehicles and so cars do not have a right of way there.

What people mean is priorities. Priorities kick in when 2 people want to share the same bit of road at the same time and when there is doubt as to who should go first, the priorities system kicks in. However, if one vehicle gets there before the other then they win purely because they arrived first.

I often see road rage on the roads, people getting wound up about the smallest of things that really don't matter.

So what? 2 cars want to use the same bit of road and their timings were out. Just do the logical thing to fix the problem. If the quickest solution is to reverse, let someone out then carry on, then do it! It's only 20 seconds of your life. Having a faceoff against someone because 'they should have held the door open for me' is just shooting yourself in the foot and delaying your journey for no reason other than trying to teach someone a lesson.

Remember, travelling by car should be viewed the same as travelling by foot or bike. If I went to go through a door and met someone coming the other way one of us would probably say something like 'oh sorry, after you', 'let me hold that for you', 'thanks very much' and so on.

But in a car some people morph into some kind of evil dictator who think that they are the most important person on the planet and get overly agressive when something goes wrong - zero tollerance to the 'other idiots' on the road.

We are all human, we all deserve and should expect to be treated with respect and kindness and to react in such a manner against minor mishaps makes you the 'idiot'.

I guess i'm just saying that courtesy and kindness towards your fellow road users would go a long way to making everyones journey more pleasant and if everyone behaved like that there wouldn't be any road rage.

Lets just look out for each other out there people and the world will be a better place.


My first post! (16/11/15)

Ok, so this is my forray into blogging.

Not sure how this will go but as I often come across little nuggets of information; maybe this is the place to share those?

I could have a rant I suppose, help people with little tips and use it as a platform so that we can all learn from the mistakes of others?

I'm not sure yet, just a thought.

Now to find an app so that I can update this from my phone.....

Bye for now!