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SATS, GCSE’s, A-Levels and learning to drive.

Me.jpgWith another half term over and done with thousands of youngsters are now back at school and, if they are in Year 2 or Year 6, will be hitting preparation for their SAT’s with renewed vigour.

   Much has been made of standardised testing, that it’s more for the benefit of gauging the school and teaching abilities rather than the levels reached by children. Perhaps undue pressure is being placed on children; certainly no six year old should be crying because they worry about failing a test. However, a driving school blog is not the place to wax lyrical about the rights and wrongs of the English education system.

   That said, the spectre of teaching to the test, rather than simply educating pupils, is one that hangs over us driving instructors just as much as the primary and secondary school teachers. So trust me when I say teachers of the UK “we feel your pain”.

   Countless times I have heard that us instructors simply teach you how to pass your driving test. I don’t want to criticise my fellow instructors, but it’s true, some will take this approach; however, it’s short sighted, not to mention intensely dangerous. Your driving test is there to assess how safe you are on the roads – if you fail it is because your examiner believes you would pose a danger to yourself, and other road users, were you to be allowed to drive alone.

   Learning to drive is therefore much, much more than simply learning how to convince someone you have what it takes. Driving is more than the sum of boxes ticked on a spreadsheet and a combined score at the end.

   Like every instructor I want you to pass your test. Whilst charging you for every lesson does help pay my bills, I’d be a pretty terrible instructor if all I did was teach. At the end of the day you need to get out there and be able to do it on your own. However, I’d be an equally terrible instructor if all you had at the end of our time together was an ability to pass a test.

   I want you to leave the GDT car with that pass certificate in your hand knowing that you can drive. Confident in your own abilities that you genuinely have all the skills, knowledge and information at hand to be able to cope with the wide variety of different situations that are likely to be thrown at you throughout your time behind the wheel.

This is what all teachers want for their pupils and students – the ability to go out and function in the real world. To not just know what the answer is, but to understand why it is. We want to work to the speed of the person we are teaching, not to our own personal timeline, or an arbitrary one set by a governing body. Nobody learns well when the focus is purely on passing a test.

   If you let us teach you the way we know works, then you will pass.

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