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 How to make a learner THINK for themselves

Teaching is an art and a skill, which not everyone has the ability to do, as we are all good at different things in life, and teaching people to drive is rewarding aswell as having challenges along the way.

I recently undertook a small study with some of my clients, watching how they respond to the instructions I give them, how they process the information, and finally how they put that information into practice. Most of the pupils would process the information and speak out loud, some would be thinking quietly in their minds, but on the whole they both successfully completed the basic tasks. One of the area’s each pupil seemed to lack was forward planning, Observations of the new road they were entering and not taking in signs, which is quite a vital part of driving, for safety of everyone.

I put some thought into this, in my own private practice, wondering how they can miss such large signs when entering new roads or when approaching roundabouts. I listened to what I was hearing in my own head, and when approaching a roundabout I could hear in my sub conscious mind, “Where is the sign”, “What exit am I going to”, “What lane do I need”, “Can I go” and so on. It dawned on me I was self instructing in my head, all be it my subconscious mind. I wondered what would it be like to not have any questions in your mind or a quiet mind. After some thought the conclusion was clear, if you don’t talk through things you don’t get the answers, and then PANIC or get STRESSED.

In general there are 3 levels of learning,  Cognitive, Associative then Autonomous, and as a Driving Instructor we start by using command style teaching, then to Questioning and finally to letting the pupil do everything automatically with very little input from us, making them drive for life ready.

The Command style is straight forwards, as they do everything in a sequence that is given to them, therefore controlling what they do. The second stage is questioning using leading questions to help the think  “What gear will you need”, “what signs do you see up ahead” “What lane is…..” “What signs do you see” etc. Approaching a junction one day I asked my pupil what was coming up ahead, and she replied “A give way T Junction where would you like me to go” so I gave her the instruction to turn left, which was onto a 40 mph road. She approached the junction well, and looked and then drove out onto the main road safely making progress upto 30 mph!!!, but not to 40mph, and seemed to stop actively thinking, once she had entered the new road. I asked her “What is the speed limit on this road ?” and she replied “30mph” but there were signs at the end of the road, and repeaters frequently, so why was she not seeing them. After some thought it was clear that the pupil would think about what was needed to be done, as soon as they had heard an instruction, doing all the things they needed, but once they had done all the different parts and entering a new road, would be thinking the job was done until another instruction was given, so did not have to think anymore, so I asked myself, “How do I get them to think all of the time ?”


LEARNER TAKE CONTROL EXERCISE

This exercise has worked very well, but has to be carefully controlled, as the pupil will be nervous on the outset, so try on quieter roads first.

At the start of a driving lessons with one of the pupils, I said that today, she would inform me of what was approaching ie traffic lights, roundabouts or end of the road junctions, and once they tell me what was approaching,  I would then tell them which direction to go, which is similar to the independent driving, but with a twist. I asked her not to tell me about junctions approaching on the left or right as would be continually saying Junction, Junction & Junction. All she had to do was say “Roundabout” or “Traffic lights” or “End of Road” and a direction would then be given. As mentioned the pupil will feel a little nervous as they are worried they don’t know where they are going, however it is no different to you saying “Pull away when safe to do so and follow the road ahead”. My pupil prepared the car, did all the checks and pulled onto the road and drove the car in a nice fashion, about 200 metres ahead were some traffic lights and she immediately told me “Traffic lights” so I gave her an instruction to turn left at them, and did not say anything further, leaving her in control. On approaching the lights I was watching her, and she was looking everywhere, her eyes were dancing from the road ahead and in to the new road, and she told me “It’s a 40mph road and the road is clear” she continued upto 40 mph and I could see her continually looking everywhere, she then informed me “Roundabout” so I told her to follow the sign for X, she approached the junction nicely, spoke out loud it was the 2nd exit ahead, then saying “I can go” she entered the roundabout and then told me the road she was entering was a 30mph. After 20 minutes we stopped for a chat, and she was very tired.

I asked her how she felt the exercise had gone and did it help, she informed me that she was tired due to  actively thinking all of the time, in case anything was missed, and felt that in control of the drive, feeling as though she was alone in the car, even though knowing I was there. It was clear that in their mind they were 100% responsible for the car and all of the thinking, not waiting for instructions, therefore no Lull points between one junction and another, so not switching off, or relying on the instructor.

Over the next month this has been tasked onto most of the pupils even earlier stage drivers, and the result is quite amazing, resulting in  very few signs or junctions being missed, because they are “Actively” THINKING. The exercise is also an excellent tool for the independent drive, as one pupil was in an area on his test which he did not recognise , however he was looking for the “Traffic Lights”, “Roundabouts” and “Junctions” before the examiner was giving the instructions, so had already thought through where he was positioned and what was ahead, this gave him advantage, so when the examiner gave the instruction, all he had to do was put into action everything, look at the sign which had already been seen and do the activity. The stress on tests seems to have been reduced, and  a lot of the pupils are feeling more in control, and not relying on the instructor/examiner, which is exactly what they need to drive when they pass the test.

 

Try it for yourself and see, and feedback to me would be really appreciated.

Do you have your Practical Driving Test soon ?

Do you know about the questions you may be asked which are called the "Show Me / Tell Me" if not then you can check out the questions on our website as there are 20 in total, of which you will be asked 2. The 2 questions may consist of 2 show me, 2 tell me or a mix.

The questions are not difficult and just need practicing, if your learning with Parents ask them to go through them with you in your car, or if with a driving instructor ask them to help you which im sure they will cover this topic closer to test.

If you get a question wrong you get a minor so it is not the end of the world, however with some study it is avoidable and you leave the centre with a clean sheet, it also sets you up for your recommended weekly checks, which you can also find on our blog page.

This blog covers what to do if asked what is under you bonnet, and shows you what the engine looks like aswell as the items you maybe asked, for example you may be asked to identify one of the following and explain how you check it is correct:

1; Engine Oil

2; Engine coolant

3; Windscreen wash

4; Brake fluid

 

Watch the short video below which shows the Mini Cooper D 2014

Please let us know what you think and if we can help any further.

It is well known that the prices of driving lessons have increased over the years, and this is down to the general cost to the driving instructors for running their business, ie fuel, franchises and car costs, aswell as the cost for a driving instructor to qualify as they are professionals who have had to pass rigorous exams.

We have all looked at driving schools and thought "wow thats expensive, i shall go with a cheaper company" only to find that cheaper is not always better as you get what you pay for. Always go by reviews on independent sites like http://www.freeindex.co.uk/profile(lendrums-driving-school)_276423.htm where you can check out reviews for any business in any part of the UK.

Most people want to be helpful and try to teach their loved ones, which can sometimes be useful, however have you ever tried to do this, and found you have fallen out with the person you have been trying to teach as things get heated in the car. Have you ever asked yourself WHY this is ? The main reason is because your not trained to be a driving instructor and are teaching what you know, ie Slow Down, Change Gear, Stop at the junction, Dont get so close to parked cars do these sound familiar ? the only part that is wrong here is you have not told the person WHY or HOW to correct, as they do not know they are doing these faults, and this is why people fall out. 

Driving Instructors have been highly trained in What, When, Why, Where and HOW to do these things and also how to break everything down into small pieces, and they are upto date on modern techniques. How many of you have told the person your helping to indicate to go around cyclists, parked cars, and buses because you were taught that way ? well that does not get taught anymore since about 15 years ago, as an indication can give a false indication to others, and the road position gives clear indication to others from behind and approaching. There are lots of changes. 

How many of you have picked up the most recent HIGHWAY CODE since passing your test ? I can hear you groaning and mumbling to yourself that you haven't, well if your going to help loved ones you need to know what your talking about for their safety.

The person your trying or considering helping is precious to you, well if thats the case then you should leave to the professionals. By all means help with private practice, but why not do this as a team effort and talk to the instructor so you know how you can help and also how to help the instructor, this will reduce time in lessons but ensuring quality driving practices. 

Learning to drive is an investment and needs to be done properly.

I hope you enjoyed the little video clip and wish you well. If you would like any advice please ask us http://www.lendrums-driving-school.co.uk/index.php/contact.html and also take a look at some of the useful products you can purchase to assist your own knowledge esepcially Driving the Essential Skills.

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Driving Tests Around the World – Infographic

Having the ability to get behind a wheel and drive from A to B is a privilege. What also needs to be remembered is that it is also a responsibility as you are in charge of a fully moveable vehicle which has the capability to injure yourself and other people if not used and operated correctly.

That is why here in the UK we have controls in place whereby people have to apply for a licence, pass a test and so on. Driving lessons are also vital in instilling good habits and awareness from the very outset.

Drivers need to build skills up such as awareness and specific rules of the road in order to become a good driver. Of course practice makes perfect but being aware is something that a driver can never lose sight of.

 

This infographic from FA Wheels in the UK covers some interesting facts about driving tests here in the UK but also what is the state of play worldwide. Some of the facts about attaining a licence around the world are sure to shock...check it out below! 

 

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Are you really ready for your Practical Test ?

The UK driving test is one of the toughest there is, and the standard expected is high due to UK roads being so varied in terrain and width.

The main question is do you feel ready ? it is your driving test, and even though driving instructors tell you your ready and that you can do it, does that match you feelings, because if you do not feel ready then you wont pass.

 The national average in the UK first time pass rate last year was 47.1%, which is low, so over 50% of people failed a test last year, of which a high number may not have been ready. This was from the national statistics;

 

Year 2013/14

Pass rate – 47.1%

Tests passed with 0 faults – 11,984

Top ten reasons for failing

Junctions (observation)

Use of mirrors – (change direction)

Control (steering)

Junctions (turning right)

Response to signals (traffic lights)

Move off (safety)

Move off (control)

Positioning (normal driving)

Reverse park (control)

Response to signals (road markings)

 

Nerves play a large part on the day and this is hard to manage, however you have to think to yourself, can I drive without help from my instructor ? if the answer is yes then your ready and could get some remedies to help relax you which are not drug based. You can buy Rescue Remedy from the pharmacy which is a herbal remedy, speak to the pharmacist who can advise if it is for you and what ingredients it has. The idea of this remedy is it settles your nerves.

 

We have all heard the old tales that if you have your test on a Friday you will fail, the examiner has quotas to meet in pass and fail etc etc, these are all rubbish. The examiner when they arrive each day get sent a list of pupils they are examining and they get told which route, which reverse exercise, whether a emergency stop is required and what independent drive to take, so they don’t walk in on the day and decide where they are going. The only time this changes is due to an accident, road works or you go off route.

 

At the start of the test the examiner will ask to see your licence, photo card and paper licence or if you only have an old style paper licence will be asked to show your passport. Bring your theory certificate with you. The examiner will ask you to sign your assessment sheet saying the car is insured and you live in the UK. Once they are happy they will ask you if you would like to have your instructor with you, its YOUR choice not the instructors. They can sit in the back of the car, however they are not allowed to speak or help in any way. If you do have your instructor in the back remember the car will be heavier, which would mean a bit more acceleration.

 

Your test is between 35-45 minutes in duration and roads and speeds vary. The examiner does not want you to try and impress them or change your driving, they want you to show them what you have learnt, make them feel relaxed in the car and demonstrate a high quality drive which you will be doing for rest of your life. The examiners know if your trying to impress and mistakes will occur.

 

The examiners know you will make mistakes and as you see from the statistics 11984 people passed with no minors out of 1.6 million, you are allowed 15 minors with no serious or dangerous marks. Examiners may mark on the way round or at the end of the test, but it is important to note that they don’t mark every single minor mark or nobody would pass a test. They look for a pattern ie you miss a mirror, they will note it and if the fault happens again will give a minor.

 

The independent driving section is a good thing, and is something you will be doing once you have your licence, reading signs, road markings and dealing with situations without directional guidance. You may be lucky and do this with ease, but sometimes people get confused or miss a road sign, DON’T PANIC ask the examiner where to go, and it is their job to tell you. If you approach a roundabout for example and miss a sign but it is too late to ask where to go, know the lane your in and decide the correct direction from that lane. You do not fail a test or get a minor for going the wrong way so long as you went there using the correct safe procedure. Examiners are used to being taken all over the place, and they will bring you back on track.

 

The key is to listen to the examiner, then think about what they said to you, process that information and then do what you need to do. A typical mistake is for an examiner to say “At the end of the road I would like you to turn left”, you the pupil then react to that without thinking, checking mirrors and signalling straight away, but have you looked first, what if there is a junction before the end of the road, you are now giving a false signal to others. Another is when an examiner asks you to find a safe and convenient place to pull over, most will just swing the car over to the kerb without thinking and not notice other traffic so not signal or select a bad place to stop. The key is to listen, think, decide and do.

 

A driving examiner has a tough job, they give you good news or bad news, but their job is not to get to know you, with this in mind some examiners will give small talk and others wont talk, don’t think of this as them being rude, they are showing you the respect of letting you concentrate. Imagine an examiner gets into a full conversation with you and then you make a serious mistake, you would blame them for talking to you. Show examiners respect and they will do the same to you.

 

At the end of the test you will be given the result and a full brief on their reasons. If you fail you will feel unhappy, but remember they deserve respect, do not be nasty to them or have a go at them as they are only doing a job, and the mistakes were made by YOU not them. Examiners are protected by the law and will not tolerate abuse or violence and your details are on the system, so as much as you may not be happy, leave the centre and think about what was said. If your still unhappy or feel treated unfairly you can appeal through the magistrates court, but even if you win, you will only be given a retest, so this would a very costly test.

 

Below is a short video from the DVSA who run the driving tests on how the test works, take some time to look at this.

 

 

So after all this information DO YOU FEEL READY ?