Saturday 7 April 2012

No Respite

Instructors can never be at anything less than their best.  From the moment that the lesson starts we have to be the epitome of 100% concentration - to be anything else is, at best, discourteous to the pupil and, at worst, downright dangerous.  So, if I am not performing at my absolute best, due to tiredness, illness, personal circumstances or anything else, why does that matter?  Well, I may be less observant, lacking judgement or even lazy, none of which is particularly clever when in charge of a lethal weapon - the car, not the pupil :-)  It is so easy to think that it doesn't matter... when actually it does.  Getting too close to the left hand side for example.  It's easy just to ignore it and assume that it will be alright rather than reacting as necessary to avoid a potential collision.  It may be easier not to offer a prompt or guidance rather than doing so, potentially leaving the pupil to make a decision which is outside their skillset.  Alternatively, instructions may come later, too late for an inexperienced pupil.  Being safe on the roads, whether as a driver or instructor, relies on a certain amount of anticipation.  If anticipation suffers as a result of impaired performance, then it must follow that safety is compromised too.

Not only do I have to concentrate 100% of the time, I also have to remain utterly calm in any given situation, allowing my pupil the latitude to make mistakes and not panicking if they do.  When I am expecting the mistake to occur, for example, trying to pull away in the wrong gear, it's not usually a problem.  If it will cause danger or inconvenience to other drivers, then I may try to preempt it with some appropriate guidance, but if it will not, then I may just let it happen.  A lesson is always easier to learn through experience rather than being told!  However, if I am just not paying attention and the problem occurs, it could cause mayhem.

This happened today - the reasons do not need to be divulged but I didn't think I was off form at all.  My pupil made a simple mistake, using 4th gear instead of 2nd at a roundabout and stalled as a result.  I failed to notice the gear problem until after it had happened and then proceeded to issue a series of instructions to get us out of the situation - which unfortunately just made matters worse!  No major problem resulted but that does not excuse my poor instruction in that situation.  I subsequently apologised to the pupil concerned, an apology understood and accepted.

So what of the aftermath?  It has reaffirmed my belief that being anything other than perfect is simply not good enough.  Unfortunately, mistakes happen but the reaction to that has to be to try to do better the next time.  I need to work hard constantly; there is no room for complacency at all.  I need to stay fit and healthy, looking after myself properly, getting enough sleep and being in the right frame of mind.  I am duty bound to give my best to my pupils, other drivers, the DSA and the public at large.  I am determined to do that and if that means that I have to admit a mistake from time to time, so be it.

I have learned a lesson today and ultimately I hope and trust that it will make me a better, more professional instructor.

No comments:

Post a Comment