Saturday, May 5, 2012
I want tell you all about my experiences with the Young Drivers in class training, but I think first I need to explain that I had high expectations going into these classes.
I remember when my husband went through Young Drivers. It was about a dozen years ago , but I remember it quite clearly. He had only good things to say about the experience and I firmly believe that the skills which he learnt throughout the course have saved us from being in an accident on more then one occasion.
Then there's the fact that Young Drivers has been around for over 40 years and has basically set the industry standard for driver's education.
Finally, there's the fact that I've been waiting twenty-some years to take these classes. Over the years I've thought about it quite a bit, and sort of built it up in my head. So, high expectations. Really high expectations. I'm actually a tiny bit surprised, but quite happy to report that all of my expectations were either met or exceeded.
The Young Drivers drivers education course includes 20 hours of in classroom training. I had the option of either attending four 6 hour long full day classes, or eight 2 hour and 45 minute long evening sessions. I've got to say that I love that they offer such flexible class times. For me, with trying to line up a sitter for the girls, it was easiest to do the weekend all day class.
When I was in University I was notoriously bad for falling asleep in class. I wanted to stay awake, but despite my best efforts, which included taking notes, drinking coffee, pinching myself, and squirming around in my seat, I would still often doze off. So when I say one of my biggest worries was that I would fall asleep during my Young Drivers class, it's with just cause.
Since I was there for the full day class I brought along a coffee from home, and a sack lunch to eat. I was happy that they allowed beverages in the classroom. I needed that coffee darn it! Baby-G was teething and had kept me up the night before. To be honest, I was a little nervous going into the classes. My two biggest fears were that I would fall asleep and miss something important, and that I would feel weird being the oldest student in the classroom.
One of the first things we did in class was talk a bit about the psychology of learning, and how different people have different learning styles. We also took a short quiz to assess our personal learning style. This way the teacher would have an idea of what each student's learning style was and would be able to tailor things towards them. Oh my goodness, how amazing of a concept is this? Why don't they do something like this in University? At thirty-seven, I now know that I need to read things myself for them to stick. If someone reads it aloud to me my mind shuts down and stops parsing it, which is probably why I had such a hard time staying awake in class back in high school and University. This is something that took me years to figure out. Yet here my Young Driver instructor has picked up on this within the first half hour of class. And you know what's really brilliant? They also use this info from your learning style quiz to help customize your in car instruction. Is that not cool?
This sort of sums up the entire feel of the course for me. I mean, have you ever sat in a classroom and felt like the teacher was not the enemy per se, but perhaps a competitor; someone you needed to work against? Here it really felt like the teacher was working with us to help us learn the content, not simply to pass the tests, but to genuinely learn. Which considering that what we were there to learn is Really Important It Just Might Save Your Life Some Day type stuff, it felt great knowing the teacher was trying his best to really help us learn it.
Needless to say I definitely didn't need to worry about falling asleep in the classroom. The class was interactive and well paced. There was a constant stream of visuals on the overhead projector. There were tons of short video clips showing concrete examples of the driving concepts we were covering. The teacher was both knowledgeable and approachable. Questions were encouraged and promptly answered. I really felt like everything about the in-class component was designed to prepare me for the in-car lessons.
So what about my second worry? That whole feeling awkward because I'm in my 30s, and I'm taking Young Drivers. Well, I was indeed the only student over the age of 30. I started doing the math... Let's see, I met my husband when we were 18. If we'd had a kid right away, well, that guy right there could be my son. Yikes. Man, I feel old. So yeah, the other students were all about 17 or 18, I think the one girl may have been in her early 20s. But you know what? It didn't matter. The class size was small. The teaching style was informal, and felt more like a group discussion. There were breaks during the day, and a half hour lunch period. There was plenty of good natured off-topic conversation, and no one ever pointed at me and said, "Hey, what the heck are you doing here?"
The only time I felt awkward was when I cried. Yeah, I cried during my Young Drivers classes. It was when I watched this video clip that they opened the first day of class with:
Watching this video of Peter Christianson, founder of Young Drivers, discuss how and why he founded the company gave me shivers, and made me cry. I felt silly, and I certainly wasn't looking around the room to see if anyone else was teary-eyed, but I have to assume his story didn't have quite the same impact on a room full of 17 year old boys, as it did on this Mommy.
Overall, I was really impressed with the in-class component of my Young Drivers class. My worries about feeling like the odd gal out, and of falling asleep in class, where unfounded. I definitely "learned stuff" over the course of the four days that I spent in classroom. Though, to be honest, I am still quite nervous, I feel much more prepared to get behind the wheel now, and I'm eagerly looking forward to my in-car lessons.
Young Drivers is sponsoring this series of posts documenting my journey as I work towards getting my driver's license by providing me with free access to the Young Driver's Defensive Driving Program.