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I intend to do some more of these letters when I've time. Some will love them and some will hate them. After all, everyone has their own reason for assessing what is, or isn't, a useful web site - a bit like choosing a driving instructor, I guess.
I was speaking to a chap who runs a hairdressing salon recently. He said that I'd be amazed at the reasons people chose to come to him. Apparently, a lot just go for a chat ( whether he thought they were lonely or not, I couldn't tell ). Others, he said, go because his salon looks ordinary and unintimidating; unlike some, where ( and I agree with him ) you feel inferior...or just a little uncomfortable, perhaps, amongst lots of Aphrodite and Adonis types.
Which brings me to what I intended to say in the the first place...what is it that people want to see on a web site about Driving? That may seem ridiculously obvious to some, but when you've been instructing for more than five minutes, you learn that nothing is.
Maybe I'm asking for trouble here, but I'd like to hear what people think would help make this site better...and hey, while we're at it, why not tell me what makes a good instructor too?
Has anyone heard of Educational Marketing? Just wondering, because I've stumbled across a system (yes, although I'm a driving instructor, I fiddle around sticking fingers in all manner of pies ) that enables me to write articles and market the product at the same time.
I came across it on a forum ( as an e book )
for net work marketers, so the title alone intrigued me, The 7 Great Lies of Network
Marketing - indeed, the fact that it appeared on such a forum in the first
All I can say is I was up half the night reading it.
I'm putting the link here as it's a free download - I don't get monetary payment from putting the link up, by the way.
It occurred to me that I had been doing this educational marketing lark for the last 5 years on my own web site
Ahh well, like they say, there's nothing new under the sun...
Can someone tell me when politicians turned key ( pardon the pun ) into an intransitive verb?
Key is a noun as in the key to the door ( haaa, you thought I was going to say ignition, didnt you?). Key could also be the transitive verb in that sentence.
Indeed, you could say that the key to my sanity might be the removal of all politicians that use the word as a verb intransitive - for e.g., Results are key or league tables are key.
Key to what, for goodness sake?
Not that I approve of those ideas ( results, that is )in any case; but I could live with them, unlike the people that commit these crimes against the English language. Might I suggest some further studying or a re-test for such people.
In fact, while were at it, how about a Key Staged Driving Test whereby there are layered objectives meaning more driving lessons, meaning more pupils need I say more?
The Key to my success, you might say
Its a competitive world, out there.
And, Im not talking about driving instruction, either.
No, its far scarier than that - indeed, Im thinking of an article I read somewhere that involved a woman whod worked for years in the so called rat race of the board room. Well, when she finally chucked it to see a bit more of the kids, she couldnt get back in there fast enough.
Apparently, the school gates did it for her in the end.
I must add that Im not thinking so much school gates as cups of tea. You know, when you invite someone in for a quick chat ( quite simple, really ).
I have tired ( honestly ) to have a nice house and make time for work as well.
As youve probably guessed Im failing miserably. Everyone else seems to be an expert on either, cooking, cleaning, nurturing etc. etc everyone except me, that is. Or so it would seem, at any rate.
I blame that old Flash advert from the sixties - ( do you remember it - Spring - clean - with - Flash! ) where a woman stood surrounded by a sparkling clean kitchen and floor?
Well, my mum would say that there couldnt have been any kids living in that kitchen as it wasnt possible to have a house that clean that was lived in.
Kind of put me off bothering with house work in a way.
Anyway, having been poorly for a few days, Id been glad not to have to deal with the public for a bit, so when someone came on the phone asking how their little pride and joy was doing, I thought Here we go - more hassle.
Actually, I couldnt have been more wrong - the parent was really pleased to have had a chat and be made up to date on the daughters learning. She thanked me for my time and I ended the call feeling most appreciated.
Goodness - that was easy, I thought. Must be feeling better.
Just dont let me get any ideas about retiring early - I dont think I could take the pressure
Money is like power - if you flaunt it, it trickles away.
If you dont yet picture anyone, think of a person you know thats just come in to a position of power ( who has never experienced it before ) you must have some idea; you know, the office junior with the keys type syndrome
How long before they lose all credibility with all and sundry?
How long before someone that isnt used to money squanders that infamous lottery win?
On the other hand, if you use both sparingly, they tend to come back in equal/good measure ( on both counts of money and power).
So far, by the way, I have managed to acquire little of either -
Ahhh well what we never have, we never miss, as they say.
I thought Id have a nice easy weekend; having jumped through the DSAs latest hoop called Hazard Perception Assessment for Driving Instructors - don't worry, I wont go there right now.
Anyway, as the warm sunshine beckoned me to the back garden, the front door opened in the shape of my nephew suggesting that we go to the Dogs Home for the afternoon.
Im sure I remember protesting saying something about one dog being enough as we headed for the car -- We neednt come back with anything, its just nice to go and fuss the dogs a bit I heard him say.
No sooner had we got in the car and -- Were going to get you a little brother, Sandy ( obviously, thats the present dog ) had me dreaming up excuses at the ready and waiting.
They couldnt have been very good because I fell in love almost immediately with Sad Looking Hound number 102 and I now feel utterly guilty about having left him there whilst I come home and think about it.
I can honestly say its been one of the worst weekends of my life
Still, Ben will be to going back to University soon, at which point I may be able to regain some semblance of normality again --
Although, I fear, only after Ive been to collect that dog
Ive just listened to the weather forecast and Spring is well and truly here : thunder storms, overcast, grey skies and heavy rain.
Good old Manchester - the air conditioning has been playing up, too.
This is just what I need on a nice wet day - the car misting up just as my pupils about to reverse round the corner.
I cant wait for the diagnosis from the garage - Ahhh well happy days.
Character building, you might say.
I enjoyed reading your anecdotes Hilary, someone said recently.
I'd just come to terms with calling it a blog, although I prefer to use the word letters.
Not that it matters in the least, of course, but having checked a few manuals, I am now quite reliably informed that they are short-short articles--
Unless anyone knows otherwise?
Now, well say it very quietly, Car thats it, quiet enough so that we can just about hear you say it.
I think cars should be kept in their place, from now on. Not that I dont like them or anything. I dont mean them any harm. I just want them to understand that we humans are in charge and its for us to tell them how to behave.
Lets face it, if I want to make regular trips to my local garage, I can do that on my own thank you very much. I dont need to keep taking my car as well.
You know all that positive reinforcement stuff like You know you can do this journey without making a little mistake; Ill be good to you if get us home without any fuss; Now you dont have to send out little noises from your engine to catch my attention, etc.
All these little motivations to no avail, Im afraid.
So,my answer to the problem is to make sure theyre seen but not heard
Now,did I hear someone mention cars?
I've coined a new phrase.
The other week. I took my little (?) nephew (hope his mates arent reading this) to Uni. After about fifteen journeys twixt my little Fiesta and Halls (as I surveyed the contents of the room, I still cannot believe we got everything in that little car) - we finally sat down to set up the computer. Id been with him to buy it a day or two before which brings me to the point of this letter
Having dropped him off at what can only be described ( in his language ) as a bit of a dodgy joint, hed come back five minutes later to announce that hed botched the deal! Excuse me, hed gone in with fifty pounds to buy an old computer that would word process and hold a modem! Whats this about a deal?
It turned out that hed got just what hed gone in for but was disappointed because he reckoned that if Id gone in at thirty, as he so eloquently put it, hed now be twenty pounds better off. This lad will go far and Im not just saying that cos hes my nephew.
Anyway, I explained that the art of negotiation was to go in and agree on what youre happy with - when youve got that, dont be greedy- just walk away ( you may talk yourself out of it!). To put it another way (youll have heard the phrase - Sit up, shut up and look up ) well, hows this - Bag it, shut it and leg it! Not eloquent, Ill admit, but sufficient for a Fresher student, I reckon.
Hmmm Ive been thinking How much could I sell these articles for should I go in at 20p a word?
Ive heard recently, on good authority, that Im a brilliant instructor Ooo goody!!!
Ive heard, even more recently, on good authority that Im no good at this job
Oh not so goody, then.
Who cares whether were any good anyway? - Well, the DSA for a start - sorry to any non ADIs whore reading this letter, by the way...its definitely one for the instructors but feel free to read along if you wish.
Now, I have to admit I lied in the opening lines of this posting well, sort of - after all, I guess weve all had the pupil who thought we were wonderful; but wouldnt we all be lying if we said that wed never had the occasional complaint?
Anyway, where was I? - Oh yes - the DSA (examiners, that is)... Heaven forbid, theyre going to be assessing us instructors (I was going to say evaluate but decided on assessment instead - complaints to my e mail please).
Can you just imagine the grumbles, grudges and gripes when your least favourite DE. gives you a poor grade just after youve had a string of passes with your favourite examiner?
Or, if youd just been awarded a 6 after a string of fails with that least favourite one?
Maybe we should just let the public decide after all well, I mean, wont they anyway?
Think about it, when were you last asked your grade???
People who think they know it all really wind me up.
Do I recall a time when it was just not done to brag to and put down as many people around you as possible or am I looking through something rose and tinted here?
Its 12 yrs since I qualified as an instructor; following that I did further qualifications of a teaching nature.
Perhaps Im missing something, but in all the courses I have attended, there was always one thing which resounded throughout; that was that you were always positive to your pupils whether it be in response to desired behaviour or otherwise.
I can honestly say now, that people appear absolutely desperate in their resolve to decimate all of those around them ( I mean people in general here...not necessarily people who are teaching or being taught something).
OK...Ill be the first to put my hands up and admit that by the end of my working week, Im likely to be a bit sharp and coming out with the odd negative remark...isnt everyone?
Theres a difference, though, in making that occasional remark and going all out for someone.
I find this approach abounds on the Internet as well as being apparent in society generally. There seems to be a fear of stepping down alongside people to help them up, just in case theres someone with a knife over your back poised ready to stirke!...rather just keep everyone down in the first place.
I always felt the natural thing to do was build people up...that is why I do this job. Perhaps Im too old for it now and attitudes/methods, they are a changin ( as someone far greater than me once sung - Im only just old enough to remember...honest...sorry Bob!).
Having said that ( and I feel a little smile coming on as I write ) maybe people behave this way because I just wind them up as much as they do me?
Ive fallen out with the letter C.
Now, think about it for a moment cigarettes, credit cards, computers, cars Cars!!! that was it - thats why Im here and not out doing what Im supposed to be - Ill come back to that despicable invention in a moment.
In the mean time, have you noticed that with all these things, we can neither live with them nor without them?
Ohhh now come on, admit it - its not just me....please, please tell me its not. The last thing I need is someone making me feel guilty anyway, Ive got an idea - we should start a campaign to eliminate the letter C and then life would be much easier for all of us.
Well, actually, I have to say I did manage to give up the ciggies years ago (and no, I didnt start again either) - although this week may finish all that which brings me back to that unspeakably irritating subject yes, youve guessed it the cars broken down (and I nearly have, too).
Ha! I hear you say. Youre a driving instructor and should know about these things.
Well, yes, thats true but how was I to know that when the exhaust was replaced it actually turned out to be the catalytic converter that needed replacing which, it turned out, didnt really need replacing but it was the something or other sensor? (I forget the name, but it does what the carburettor used to do).
Anyway, theres more - like most self respecting folk, I decided some retail therapy was called for, so within half an hour found myself sitting in a very friendly car showroom buying a (nearly) new car with part exchange. Unfortunately, mine wont even start now, so Ill look really good being towed in with a part ex when I pick up the new(ish) one. Hopefully, no one will notice (fingers crossed for me please).
Anyway, the only thing left is to go out and buy some chocolate now thatll really cheer me up - Ahhh, Chocolate maybe we shouldnt ban that letter C after all.
Im not normal, apparently.
I know this because Ive just read an article that said - not only do women take longer to pass their test than men, they have more trouble learning to reverse.
The good news, ladies, (you will be pleased to know) is that we make safer drivers something to do with us being more aware of danger so using our mirrors more.
OK then, to get back to what I was saying (about being normal) my pupils, a lot of whom do happen to be female, seem to pick up the manoeuvres quite easily. I can say quite categorically maybe not the best phrase in view of Svens interpretation of it recently (sorry chaps - just joking) that they dont seem to have too many problems on the driving test when it comes to demonstrating manoeuvres. These include any two of the reverse park, reverse into a limited opening, bay park and turn in the road (thats the three point turn - but we instructors arent allowed to use slang, Im afraid).
No, the biggest problem, I find, is teaching those more unexpected incidents that have never happened on a lesson (such as when a family of ducks waddle out from the grass at the side of the road OK this happened on a Pass Plus lesson - but Im sure you get the idea).
Unlike the manoeuvres that, when having mastered clutch control, the pupil should really be able to remember the cue points for each stage.
So, either Im doing something right in making sure all my pupils can do manoeuvres and all the other instructors are wrong (unlikely) or....Im doing something wrong on the general side and all the other instructors are right (even more unlikely!).
Having said that, strange as I may be, we havent yet experienced any ducks walking out just as we were about to do a bay park in Safeways carpark
Yet!...Watch this space
Did anyone see the football?
I heard the final hour on Radio 5 as I dont have a telly ( yes, I know thats very sad ).
Not being an expert, Im pleased not to have to feel angry or upset about it all.
I was interested, though, in what another instructor said. He reckoned that blaming the referee was a bit like blaming the examiner on a driving test ( Ill admit this instructor is Welsh but I cant say much with a name like mine, can I?)
Theres some truth here. Those of you whove done a driving test will know that faults are categorised into Driver and Serious Faults. One of the latter will result in a fail although 15 Driver faults are allowed. Needless to say, the Serious faults are usually the result of Driver faults which have become Serious due to the situation at the time.
Its arguable that if you make no Driver faults, then, no error can become a Serious one...so you will pass!
The same could be said for penalty takers...if each one was a sure fire winner we would still be flying the flags from our cars. (Id just like to make it clear that Ive no idea whether the best team won or not - my football know lege is restricted to watching a few games at Stockport County as a kid).
On the other hand, if we were all perfect and capable of exemplary performance on the pitch or on a test, I think the game, life and teaching wouldnt be half the fun it is.