So far in this series of short emails I have looked at how to train behaviour; using instruction to keep the car safe; and educating for the long term. Using all three of these methods ensures people learn most effectively in the way that suits them best so that they can make safe choices and decisions when they are out driving unsupervised.
Learning is all about change and we are looking to change our clients into thinking drivers, who can act responsibly on our roads by managing their feelings.
As driving instructors, we often like to give people content but the problem here is they could easily have learned this content for themselves. Content-filled lessons lead to telling and transferring information to our learners, who could have researched this for themselves in ‘The Highway Code’ or ‘Driving the Essential Skills’.
In any case, when teaching someone to drive it is not possible to cover every single incident and every piece of information in ‘The Highway Code’ by practical application.
The key to our lessons is that they should be client-centred and performance based; not test-based training that is instructor-centred and content based and results in telling and transferring of information.
If you teach your client to measure themselves against their previous performance or how they 'feel' they have performed, they will learn to think for themselves. This makes learning fun and enjoyable and will ensure they are safer when they are driving unsupervised.
In my next email I am going to explain why coaching is the only way you should conduct your lessons.
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In my previous email I had a short look at the words ‘Training’ and ‘Instruction’. In this article I want to look at the word ‘Education’ and how we as driving instructors have moved on to being educators and delivering life skills that are long term. As we educate our clients, we are trying to build models that will help them stay safe throughout their driving lives - an example of a simple model that we help people implement is the MSM routine. The training builds specific behaviours such as the psychomotor skills of driving e.g. clutch control. Then our instruction helps them identify hazards and to act safely and proactively to avoid potential safety critical situations. Education enables the client to adopt a safe outlook on life so that they can foresee the potential dangers and put in place safe driving practices.
So far, I have touched on what training means and how it conditions a behaviour, how instruction helps keep your client safe in a safety critical environment and that we have now become educators and that education is the key to lifelong learning.
In the next short email, I will look at learning.
In my last article I looked at the word ‘training’ and what it would be mean if translated directly, and I jokingly reminded ourselves that we 'train' animals. Now, I want to look at the word ‘Instruction’ . We have instruction manuals that help us follow a set pattern in how to put things together, and if you have ever had the joy of putting together a piece of flat pack furniture, you will quickly recognise that instruction alone is not always sufficient to be able to succeed.
We do, however, often need to use instruction in safety critical environments where mistakes could lead to serious consequences. The problem that we have is our clients will need to be fully independent once they have passed the driving test and, even though our 'instruction' will help them stay safe immediately, it will be down to their ability to generalise and interpret this 'instruction' in new situations that will lead them to be able to make safe decisions for themselves. So, even though instruction has a part in learning to drive, again, like training, it will not be sufficient on its own to create a thinking driver that takes responsibility for their actions.
'Instruction' is a fundamental skill an Approved Driving Instructor must have in order to manage the risk. It helps the client develop skill in specific safety critical situations and will encourage their ability to adapt their leaning to new situations. However, 'instruction' is still not sufficient on its own to enable someone to adopt 'safe driving for life'.
Your job as a driving instructor is not just to transfer information but to influence the way your learners act and think behind the wheel of a vehicle. This is why training and instruction are not sufficient techniques on their own.
In my next email I will look at our role as educators.
In this short series of articles I will be advocating why coaching is far more effective then instruction. This is the first article, if you would like to receive these articles direct to your inbox to help you learn more about the benefits of coaching and client centred learning then sign up to our emails by registering on our website.
Learning is not always easy especially when it can be often so hard to learn. We have stuck so many labels on learning that it may have become confusing on which method works best.
It will become no surprise that I am going to advocate coaching as the best learning method but I hasten to add so many people do not understand coaching that first I am going to explain why other methods do not work in isolation and then why coaching will always work if the coach has developed the skills of coaching. Over the next series of emails I will take a brief look at different words we use to describe ourselves when helping people to learn. The good news is all of the methods will work.
So I am going to start with a brief look at the word training and if you take a moment to think about what we could possibly train, what sprung in to my mind was, you could train your dog, training states you are going to train the dog to perform a specific task quite precisely. Training is often command led and so if we require the dog to sit, we command it to sit and hopefully the dog sits. When training we are looking for a change in behaviour or in the case of the dog create a new behaviour on command and so if we are training our learners to drive we are looking for a change in what they have done previously. So through repetitive training we are able to produce a change in behaviour that is consistent and has fewer errors and can be done quicker and then in more difficult conditions. This can be related to driving a car on automatic pilot it doesn't require you to think about the physical or mental actions required to do something, for example changing gear. Training helps perfect this task and is an effective method but it is not sufficient to produce a safe and competent driver.
Training will allow the learner driver to reproduce what has been taught and then be able to act automatically and then will be able to replicate the behaviour time and time again exactly the same way, just like changing gear. You may already be thinking what's the difference and does it matter and to be honest it probably doesn't matter what label you stick on helping someone learn but it may help you to think about what methods work best for helping you trying to achieve a leaning outcome for your client.
This blog is part of a series of emails which you can sign up to by registering on our website. I will look at the word Instruction and why instruction is helpful in the next article.