Driving Lessons Lessons

When I finally announced that I was going to pick up driving, I sent shockwaves around my community. Top five questions I was asked:

“School or private?”

“I’ve always thought you were a driver! You look like one!”

“Tell me when you are on the roads. I’m gonna stay home. Hur hur…”

“Why didn’t you pick it up earlier?”

“Does this mean you will be our ‘safe guy’ when the rest have a bit too much to drink?”

(School. Never knew there was a look. Sure, stay home and miss out on all the fun. I can’t quite fathom looking into mirrors for oncoming traffic – mirrors are meant for looking at yourself and checking if there is food stuck in your teeth. $40 per trip; additional $250 if you throw up.)

When the day finally arrived for my driving lessons, I was really excited. I got to the driving centre early – 40 minutes before my class to be exact. Only problem was… I had absolutely no idea where to go from there. I walked around for a bit, hoping to gather some clues on my own (‘cos I’m genius like that…), but everyone seemed preoccupied with something much more important or exciting than helping.

That was until I spotted an instructor who was about to head to the canteen for his break. I smiled – very apologetically – and explained my predicament, and he was kind enough to take a break from his break to show me what I needed to do. (And Evie. For the last time. I was in a long-sleeved boat-neck top and a pair of culottes that were loose-fitting and reached my knees. )

Thanks to him, I managed to find Instructor #1 and our car. And tada! I was officially a student again.

Instructor #1 was a soft-spoken and gentle character, who was extremely polite. He dispensed useful advice and gave clear instructions, while giving me the freedom to explore and make mistakes. He even said I look as if I’d driven before – I haven’t. At the end of the lesson, he summed up what I had done well (calm and confident on the roads), and reminded me of a few areas of improvement (I tended to oversteer when I turn, and he thought I was going too fast when turning – even though it was all of 15 km/h. Speed demon. That’s me.).

Exactly four days later was lesson two… and I was late. Fortunately, Instructor #1 had already told me where to locate my training car if I ever am late, so I was not too frazzled.

I apologised profusely. Instructor #2 was really understanding and not at all annoyed. As we moved off, he told me he would revise some of the stuff I did last week with me. We joked quite a fair bit and I found him to be a jolly fella. I brought up the problem I had with oversteering and he addressed it immediately, and followed up with an analogy. Problem fixed, right away! I liked that. Until I was left to practise my turns while he… texted… and texted… and texted. I felt like I had progressed, but he wasn’t paying attention. I was eager to learn something new this lesson, but I didn’t want to seem rude. Eventually, he put his phone aside and we started on my sharp lefts. When he finally gave me his full attention once more, he asked the same question as Instructor #1: “Eh. You’ve secretly driven a car before is it?” (Still no.) He said my turns were excellent and he was very surprised. (Yayyyy!) Before we ended the session, he asked when my Advanced Theory examination would take place, and told me to focus on some key areas.

So, two lessons so far and I am doing okay. It was extremely stressful, but I had fun. When I walked out of the school last week, I realised that I had learnt a lot more than driving. I had the chance to reflect on teachers and teaching itself, and also myself as a learner. Although I am already aware of many of these things, re-learning them from the actual perspective of a student once again was refreshing.

And here are the lessons I’ve learnt from my driving lessons:

1. When you start on a new topic, expect students to be completely lost. It doesn’t mean they are not keen. It would help if you ease them into the process by giving them some directions.

2. Be generous and sincere with praise. Do the same with feedback.

3. Be patient.

4. A good teacher may not be someone who is fun all the time, but being aware of your students’ needs – absolutely essential.

5. Celebrate mistakes. They are the best way to learn.

6. Students did not wake up early, beat rush hour traffic, (and in my case, pay good money) to go to school to watch their teachers text/update their FB statuses. We do all that to learn something beneficial.

7. Challenge students. Revision is great, but repeating something you have already mastered doesn’t stimulate at all.

8. Give students a little more. A little more love,  a little more knowledge beyond the syllabus, a little more time, a little more guidance, a little more faith, a little more nudging… So that they know they can. Just that little more, so that you open up that little crack that makes them want to take a peep to see what’s on the other side, and their natural curious instinct and determination to succeed will get them there.

And students (of all ages, shapes and sizes)… Nothing is boring unless you decide it is so. Invest yourself fully when you learn.



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