Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Classroom v Proper Learning

After my first week in the classroom at the start of learning Advanced Driving I mentioned that I wasn't overly impressed. That was early days though and I had hopes that later weeks would be better. Tonight was the penultimate classroom session before we move onto one-to-one sessions with an allocated observer over however many weeks it takes to get to test standard. Next week, the last "group" session in the classroom, we are each taken on an assessment drive when we actually get to be behind the wheel of our own cars with an observer sitting next to us for a 15-20 minute assessment. Maybe this would be an opportune moment to re-assess how impressed I am with the classroom stuff over the past 4 weeks.

I'm still not too impressed.

I can't honestly say that I could really recommend it to any of my friends, although to be fair the classroom parts are only part of it and the next bit should redress the overall balance somewhat. But anyone capable of reading and understanding the words contained in Roadcraft, the Police Driver's manual, will learn just as much as they would from watching someone putting selected bullet points from the book onto a PowerPoint presentation and then just reading each slide aloud. And yes, I suppose there's the chance to ask for clarification on any points if necessary, but it's still not an ideal way to teach a subject. There have been one or two notable exceptions ("your Majesty is like a stream of Bat's Piss - you shine out like a shaft of gold when all around is darkness") like the DVD made by the Dumfries & Galloway IAM group which demonstrated the difficult art of driving commentary. OK, I can't really think of another highlight right now. Just the DVD then.

Tonight we had a nice woman reading some slides very quickly, then a nice man showing us a film of a motorway drive first on the M8 then the M80 from Greenock to Stepps which he made a few days ago. In real time apart from a small amount of fast forwarding in a traffic jam at the Kingston Bridge. With him stopping the film every so often to use his laser pointer and ask "can anyone tell me what that is?" to which someone would inevitably reply "it's an emergency telephone" or "it's a 300 yard marker board for an exit from the motorway" or some other such bleeding obvious answer (not the answerers' fault though). I very nearly slipped into a coma and I was certainly in screen saver mode for most of it. And he stayed in the middle lane all the way. At a maximum speed of 64mph which could be seen a few times when the cameraman/woman occasionally focussed on the speedometer reading (the limit on most of the motorway, for any overseas readers, is 70mph) while the presenter commented on "all the cars racing past" which were clearly exceeding his own speed by approximately 6mph.

Not to worry. The five weeks of classroom stuff is just the preamble to the one-to-one sessions which I am actually looking forward to. And my commentary is getting better.

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