Friday, July 19, 2013

Driver's Ed. UGGHHH.

There are reasons why my 17-year-old daughter is only now taking drivers' ed, and reasons why we are doing the "classroom" part of that instruction online from home, but that's more than I want to go into right now.  For the purposes of the rant to follow, simply accept that it is so.

And I probably could have found a higher quality online program if I'd had the time, resources, and inclination to dig more.  I chose PTDE 101 (Parent Taught Driver's Education), the program created by the state of Texas, because it was a third or less of the price of the others on the approved list -- and because it was created by the state, so I felt secure it would meet the necessary requirements.

But this program.  UGGHHH.

We read.  We read pages and pages of information that is not only irrelevant to 90% of the people taking driver's ed, but information that is written like a lawyer's brief.  Then she takes a quiz -- with questions that are either ridiculously obvious or questions about minute details that are, again, irrelevant.  And for each section, she has a writing assignment where she finishes three sentences describing how she will use the information she just learned to be a safe driver, a courteous driver, and an environmentally friendly driver (note that there has yet to be anything in any of the information presented concerning environmentally friendly driving).

I mean, I'll be honest: I'm not a great driver.  But I'm an experienced driver and certainly an adequate driver.  More than that, I am an excellent reader.  I'm a former English teacher, for crying out loud, with a graduate degree.  If someone like me is having trouble understanding what the heck they are talking about when I read the lessons, then there's a real problem here.

If an opportunity came up, I would offer the state my services in re-writing their curriculum.  [On a personal note, many instances have come up lately -- as they have come up throughout the course of my adult years -- when I find myself looking at someone doing something and thinking, "Ugh . . . I could do better."  Almost always it's in a teaching and/or performing and/or administrating capacity.  I'm trying to decide if this is arrogance on my part -- something I should deal with -- or if it's an urge I should indulge, because such thoughts have often led me into some great experiences.  But I digress . . . ]

I think the problem here is the mistaken notion that teaching someone to drive should involve extensive "classroom" time.  It shouldn't.  Yes, there is a set of information to be communicated, but you learn to drive by driving, not by reading about how to drive.  Actually, I think the deal is, they want to give the impression that they are ensuring safer drivers by having extensive requirements for people to get their licenses . . . but it is a hassle for everyone involved to increase the in-car instruction time (the part that really makes a difference in the quality of one's driving), so they increase the in-classroom instruction time instead (and add a bunch of gobbledy-gook and extraneous information to beef it up and make it last longer). 

It's an illusion.  It's what government does.  Why we let them get away with it, I'll never know.

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