A thought is never fully formed until it has been discussed and debated

When I first qualified I was a repeater.

It was as if I felt that so long as I used the same words and techniques I used on my part 3, I couldn’t fail.  Of course I wasn’t blind to the fact that people are different and a good ADI varies their instruction to meet the pupils needs, but my attempts at variety were often hampered by the straight-jacket that my training provided for me.  Or possibly I was hampered by the understanding I took from my training.

All of a sudden I found myself writing about the things that I was telling my pupils everyday, and most of it was fine, but when I got down to the real nitty gritty of the techniques I used, I found weaknesses and contradictions.

For instance, I was telling my pupils that the first part of POM was ‘preparation’ and that to prepare the car to go you should set the gas and find biting point.  This understanding came from my training, I used it on my part 3 and I’d had a load of test passes with my pupils who all used it.

Then one day on the forum I wrote a post about moving off in different conditions, ice, wet, uphill, downhill, restricted space, that sort of thing.  I wrote that it isn’t always necessary to set the gas, even that it’s not always necessary to find biting point.

During the writing of the post I realised that although I had been instructing for a year or more, my understanding of POM was completely wrong.

I asked myself whether it was absolutely essential to find biting point before moving off, then I asked myself whether it was absolutely necessary to set the gas before moving off.  The answer to both these questions was “No”.  Then I questioned whether it is absolutely necessary to prepare before you observe and observe before you move off, the answer to that one was “Yes”.

The inescapable conclusion from my analysis was that POM did not necessarily include setting the gas and finding biting point.

I was so shocked at this revelation that I went to see my local SE, who told me that if I took any trainees to him on a part 3, they would get marked down if they taught the ‘pupil’ that they could set off without using gas.  Eventually I spoke to technical standards at DSA, and even though the techy chappie agreed, that teaching new drivers that they must set the gas when moving off, means we are teaching poor methods and understanding, nothing has changed.

Forget DSA though, changes happen very slowly at the ivory towers.

The important issue here is what happened to me.

What would have happened had I not found the forum?  Well maybe I would still be teaching learner drivers that they must set the gas regardless, find biting point regardless, carry out a 360 visual check regardless … you get the picture.

What did happen was that things began to make so much more sense after I’d written about it, after I’d taken part in a discussion about it on ‘the boards’.

A forum may well be nothing more than a debating facility for groups of individuals, but its strength lies in what it can do for those individuals individually.

The magic of a forum lies within the development of the self.