Sunday, 12 October 2008

Training to pass a test?

There's a lot of instructors around who will quote a thousand and one qualifications at you to prove how good they are (I even know of one who advertises that he is a cycling proficiency trainer! I'm pretty sure this is slightly tongue in cheek as he seems like a pretty good ADI).

But what actually qualifies them to teach you?

The simple answer is that green badge. (The pink one will do, but this actually means they're ALLOWED to teach, but not QUALIFIED.)

So what does this mean?

Well, in some situations it means that they've taught themselves pretty much, maybe they've had a week or so's training, sometimes they've taken a bit longer and had maybe 60+ hours of training to actually teach someone to drive.

But how relevant is this?

The first problem with getting that green badge is that it is all about performing set exercises (imagine an exam when you know the possible questions beforehand), which are actually quite simple to practice. This doesn't mean that it is simple to pass - the majority of people are trained so badly that they do not understand the basic key principles of teaching (trained by people who profess to know them, but who then ignore them when it comes to training the trainers!).

I myself really did not understand the core competencies when I passed my part 3 to become a qualified ADI. I was lucky that my ability at levels of instruction and Q and A got me through.

The second problem is to do with the way that ADI training courses are run - they are run in the same way that the worst ADIs practice - they teach you to pass the test, but when presented by something out of the ordinary (the L-test that goes off route, or the ADI test where the examiner starts asking awkward questions or making mistakes that you weren't primed for) they have no idea how to handle them.

So what is the solution?

The solution is for ADIs to be trained in teaching before they are trained for the pre-set tests of the part 3 exam.

For all of you out there who are training to be ADIs who are wondering when it will all start to make sense - either your trainer is failing you, by not starting at the beginning, but throwing you into "big picture" training too early, or you are failing yourself by not asking your trainer to explain exactly what they mean at EVERY stage.

How should you learn?

Well it should have started with your part 2 training - understanding why you were doing all of this stuff, with commentary driving to explain every step you take. Then it should move on to the simplest of tasks - guided instruction, broken down in detail, and explained simply and clearly.

From here you should repeat the same task at the prompted stage, and then you should learn to grade your instruction from one to the other, incrementally changing from full instruction through to early clear prompting and finally to the subtlest of hints.

Then you need to be able to read your student to assess which level they need, and to understand the point at which they need no more instruction at that skill, while anticipating things which may mean that you need to quickly leap in with full guided instruction again at a moment's notice.

This is how people learn new skills - it is also how to correct faults in the skills someone already has (core-comps - sorting the fault).

Only once an instructor can understand these levels of instruction can they start even thinking about fault spotting and analysis.

Who cares about briefings, who cares about recaps, who cares about whether the PST starts in the test centre car park or not?

Build the foundations first.

How well qualified are ADIs? It all depends on the quality of their training.