Learning to Drive – Self-help

The author of this blog is a Driving Instructor who has helped dozens of pupils become confident and competent drivers over several years. He offers this self-help blog for any readers who are currently learning to drive as a guide to help understand what is involved in the process.

Learning to drive is a pretty unique process. The majority of us will learn to drive, but how we do it is deeply unique.  The timing of when this happens, and even the motivation for wanting to learn to drive can vary enormously, but one thing is for sure, the journey that is taken continues to follow a familiar path as it has over the decades.  This blog will aim to raise the awareness of why learning this skill is an inspiring process for me and my pupils.

In any learning environment there are 2 perspectives that each and every one of us will consider in differing degrees and at differing times along the process.  The first perspective is a very personal one.  It is directly linked to our inner most thoughts and feelings, it affects our motivation and confidence because it talks directly to us, and I will refer to it as the ‘inner perspective’.  It is that voice in your head.  It might affect you in your sleep, it might excite you as your training session draws nearer, but it can’t be ignored.  Try as we might, we cannot hide these feelings that we experience.  They may be intensely positive or negative, but one thing is for sure, we do not control when they arrive or how deeply they resonate within us.  No-one, but no-one can criticise you for feeling the way you do… it is what makes you, gloriously, uniquely, you.  They are undeniably present; some people are more able than others to express the believed reasons for these thoughts, and the extent to which they can be heightened or dulled varies within us all.

The other perspective within a learning environment is that which is around you, I will refer to it as the ‘outer perspective’.  It includes the conditions in which you learn, the “how” of the learning process.  Think of it as the oil which lubricates the “learning cogs”.  Vitally important as without this oil, we have no turning of cogs, we have no learning taking place.  Any aspect of this perspective can directly affect the effectiveness of the process.  The relationship between instructor and pupil and the external factors involving equipment, conditions, timing and duration – these will all affect enjoyment levels and effectiveness.

The 2 perspectives are very much inter-related, in as much as the potential for either or both to affect learning outcomes, but how much any given pupil is actually aware of them differs greatly.  I will give some examples of how important it is to be aware of how these 2 perspectives can affect you, because if you were to ignore this, you are leaving the success of your learning experience to chance – you may, or you may not be successful in achieving your dreams.  For peace of mind, a pupil would do well to be aware of their inner and outer perspectives.

The inner perspective is something that is dear to my heart.  I can recall countless learning environments in my personal life where this inner perspective was paramount in my failing.  It is generally under estimated quite how powerful this perspective is in affecting outcomes.  The courage and inner-strength required can be enormous, such is the turmoil of this inner fight and how it affects our behaviours.  This deeply personal inner conflict reminds me of the following phrase by Anais Nin:

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom


The outer perspective can be deceptively sinister and equally as deadly in its ability to disable learning. It is deceptive by the very nature of it often being overlooked or not referred to.  To continue with the analogy above of greasing cogs for smooth operation and effective learning, the quality of oil used, the frequency of checking the oil level, and the timing of identifying leaks are very much in the control of each of us.  For sure, we could choose to not burden ourselves with considering oil levels, we may have no inclination for such matters; but crucially, by doing so, we are running the risk of attempting to turn cogs with NO lubrication at all.  The reason why this can be sinister in nature, is due to the fact that many people will naturally leave the ‘conditions’ of the learning environment to the experts – on the basis that surely, all things being equal, it is all of a  muchness.  As understandable as it is to fall into this trap, it really can be avoided with some attention to it.  Pupils who are experiencing “failure” in a learning environment, will often mistakenly place the cause as their own inability and limitations when in fact, it is the condition in which they are learning that is failing them, and often, those conditions are not being controlled by them at all.

How able and willing a trainer is to adapt the learning methodology around the needs of a pupil is just one measure of “quality of oil”.  Steepness of the learning curve, timing and duration of driving lesson, location of driving training, quality of the driving school car, relationship with Driving Instructor – all of these things matter greatly for providing an effective, long-lasting and valued learning environment.

Why is this so important?  Put simply, it can seriously affect our outlook on things…. permanently.  Consider a teacher at school that put you off a certain subject for the rest of your life, and the resentment you felt for that individual.  How about a coach that turned you off swimming, skiing or learning a musical instrument for life.  Consider how a work colleague or boss affected your career development within the work environment.  This affects lives.  In the book “Creative schools” by Ken Robinson, a contribution from Joe Harrison summarises this point clearly…. “At the heart of it is the quality of the engagement between the teacher and the learner being more important than simply judging students by ability and tests”.

The aim of this blog was to raise your awareness of how differing factors within a learning environment can be categorised into “inner and outer perspectives”.  The inner perspective that affects how we think and feel within a certain learning environment is pure, undiluted and affects us to our core.  The outer perspective is just as powerful but absolutely controllable in its ability to affect positive or negative outcomes.  I have come to realise over the years that pupils who come to me having experienced much pain with learning to drive have simply been enforced to remain ‘tight in the bud’….. when I change the environment in which they learn, they will blossom with more colour and vitality than anyone could ever have dreamed.

BIG TOM Driving School provides 5 Day Intensive Driving Courses in Peterborough, Grantham, Lincoln, Sleaford, Stamford, Boston, Spalding and Bourne.  Contact us HERE


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