Within the “Teaching and Learning Strategies” section of the DVSA driving instructor performance assessment is: “Was the pupil encouraged to analyse problems and take responsibility for their learning?” At its core, this is a vital skill for a driving instructor to develop within pupils. The learning path experienced with driving instructors and on private driving lessons can be severely restricted by issues within this topic, and perhaps equally important will this skill be for when the pupil passes their driving test and self-evaluates driving experiences where there is no supervising driver to guide them.
How a pupil perceives not just their driving ability but themselves can have consequences on how well they can learn. How the pupil compares themself to other peers who are learning to drive or any significant people in their lives who can drive is one example. A pupil can very easily develop thoughts in their mind of how they negatively compare to someone else who may also be learning to drive, or recently took a driving test. Despite the impression that might be given by trainers when a PDI is being trained to be a driving instructor, it does not necessarily follow that all that holds a pupil back from learning to drive is structured practice, gained experience, technical knowledge and understanding.
A pupil who suffers from low self-esteem for example will require careful, kind, thoughtful training that goes beyond repeated practice. You may know from previous life experience, if you fundamentally doubt your ability because you are obsessed with comparing yourself to other more able people around you, it can be devastating to the progress made. It is true that a pupil can also suffer from an over-inflated idea of their ability because they are thinking that if a friend or family member has passed the driving test, it really can’t be that difficult.
Another way that this can be portrayed is in how the pupil can put up obstacles in their mind due to feelings of not being worthy to achieve the goal of passing the driving test. This is a very sad experience to see in someone where they are close to extinguishing any hope of bettering their life by learning to drive.
There are in fact numerous subtle differences in how these learning problems can come to light, or more to the point, why they come to light. But it is extremely beneficial to a pupil if they are working with a driving instructor who has the ability to recognise what is the root cause, and techniques within their skillset to positively help a pupil to progress. A common occurrence is that a driving instructor might perceive a lack of progress as being due to the pupil being “unconfident”, or suffering from anxiety/nerves. It is frequently heard from instructors that the pupil lacks common sense. Even worse, is when an instructor projects their own feelings of frustration and helplessness ON to such a pupil. The poor pupil is sat there with more than enough issues to be dealing with for any one person learning to drive, without having to contend with seemingly upsetting their driving instructor too.
In the BIG TOM Driving School Franchise we cover this important subject in the induction training. When customers come to BIG TOM, they are wanting results, so either ignoring issues like those above or not knowing how to deal with them is not going to lead to happy customers. By having an open, respectful dialogue with pupils to reassure them that what is happening is natural and not in the slightest bit unusual is the starting point in terms of a positive mindset for a driving instructor.
It is the kindness with which we help our customers here at BIG TOM that makes for good outcomes. Being able to relate to how a pupil is feeling and help them to take small positive steps for inner confidence and towards the end goal is a skill that this franchise values in driving instructors.