Did The Trainer Maintain An Appropriate Non Discriminatory Manner Throughout The Session
The penultimate competency on the standards Check report encourages the ADI to create an environment in which the pupil can learn and express their own beliefs and values. One that is equal and non-judgemental, rather than an environment that meets the needs of the instructor, is led by the instructor and forces the pupil to adapt to the climate created by the instructor. One which is unnatural to the client.
Whilst it might seem encouraging, friendly and calming to have terms of endearment for pupils, the reality is that this approach promotes a hierarchical relationship between instructor and pupil where the instructor is responsible for the climate, the learning and the relationship in the car and the learner is passive. As such learning takes place in an unnatural environment for the pupil and barriers are likely to be erected to enable the learner to collude with the environment that the instructor promotes.
Another potential side effect of this kind of climate in the learning process is that it may consolidate any inhibiting beliefs the client already holds, created through their lifetime of experiences and prejudices. Feelings of low self-acceptance and self-worth can link to risky behaviours, once the learner is placed in their natural habitat amongst peers, where they seek to soothe their inhibitions through acceptance and conformity to the expectations of their social group. A hierarchical approach is more likely to motivate the learner to play the role of follower, yielding to the suggestions of others, as they have done through the learning process, an ever-dangerous strategy for young adults who are prone to risk-increasing behaviours.
The Hermes Project (2007-2010):
Low self-acceptance is a typical trait of young males. Feelings of inadequacy (e.g. not being manly enough) can lead to compensation in the form of risky behaviour, such as showing off in order to try to gain the respect and admiration of others. Such behaviour can of course have serious implications for traffic. Low self-acceptance in girls often breeds anxiety and dependence or nervousness and lack of concentration. If the learner feels empowered and responsible for the learning process, he recognises the trainer as a partner rather than an instructor and he feels he is being listened to, this develops a sense of inner self-esteem which is often lacking in teenage males. If self-acceptance is developed within the training process, the learner will be more relaxed and learning can be a lot more effective because it is built on a much sounder basis than building on an external image which does not correspond to the real person inside. Coaching should be used increasingly to develop an environment where it’s ok to act naturally.
A client-centred approach treats the learner as an equal, explores the client’s agenda and considers their strengths and weaknesses, building self-evaluation techniques and increasing self-worth. Research shows that these characteristics produce safer drivers in the ‘real world’ in which the client will be present beyond the driving test. Enabling the new driver to take control of their decisions through enhanced awareness of their emotional states, strengths, weaknesses and limitations, developed in the equal, non-judgemental relationship between instructor and pupil.
In this environment it is possible to explore and challenge the pupil’s attitudes and beliefs, perhaps in relation to other road users, demographics or risk-increasing factors such as alcohol and drug use within driving. A remark about certain makes of vehicle (BMW/Audi etc drivers!), sexes, ethnic groups or driving professions, could lead to a discussion around stereotyping, enabling the pupil to consider from where this remark has derived, and the reality of any preconceptions. This reflection is linked to practise, where both parties seek to find examples of good driving along the route, exhibited by drivers of such groups can seek to eradicate prejudices and promote empathy. Asking the learner to ‘put themselves in the shoes of others can have a major bearing on future attitudes and behaviours.
The importance of the instructor maintaining a non-discriminatory manner should not be understated, particularly in regards to influencing the opinion of the client around stereotypes. An off-the-cuff remark from the instructor that colludes with a pre-formed belief or attitude held by the client could consolidate such beliefs and attitudes, and we must consider what effect this might have on the client’s behaviour post-test.
The DVSA ADI 1 states:
The ADI should maintain an atmosphere in which the pupil feels comfortable expressing their opinions. They should create an open, friendly environment for learning, regardless of the pupil’s age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, religion, physical abilities or any other irrelevant factor. This implies active respect for the pupil, their values and what constitutes appropriate behaviour in their culture.
The ADI must not display inappropriate attitudes or behaviours towards other road users and should challenge their pupils if they display these behaviours.
The DVSA ADI 1 outlines it’s competencies as follows:
Indication that all the elements of competence are in place could include:
- keeping a respectful distance and not invading the pupil’s personal space
- asking the pupil how they wish to be addressed
- asking a disabled driver to explain what the ADI needs to know about their condition
- adopting an appropriate position in the car
- using language about other road users that is not derogatory and that does not invite the pupil to collide with any discriminatory attitude
Indications of lack of competence:
- invading somebody’s physical space
- touching the pupil, including trying to shake hands unless it is necessary for safety reasons
- using somebody’s first name unless they have said that it is acceptable
- commenting on the pupil’s appearance or any other personal attribute unless it has a direct impact on their ability to drive safely such as wearing shoes that make it difficult for them to operate the vehicle’s pedals