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Good Teachers are Good Therapists (true story)

Forgive me for my absence from the blog in the past month or so (excluding my last post which I posted a few days ago). I needed some more time to digest other parts of my life although my mind was always conscious of ideas for this blog as well as a collaborative blog.

I passed my driving practical test Friday afternoon. It was my first driving test ever and I passed it. I know how easy that sounds, and that’s when words can be deceiving. But the journey was somewhat long and felt even longer (because you get impatient and start doubting your abilities, and also have bad days). I went through a few instructors before I found one that was actually encouraging enough but not patronising, who cared and gave me two hours of their time that wasn’t a waste. (You wouldn’t believe how many seem to rob your money and your soul).

Now that that path is over and fulfilled, I actually don’t know what to do with my time (I do, but mentally speaking). Needless to say, waking up this morning – a Monday morning – was weird because there would no longer be a driving lesson to go to!

I mean, what would – or could I possibly do within a two-hour period that I was so used to using to drive therapeutically?

Yeah, therapeutically.

During those two hours, I was able to shut down everything else and just concentrate on the road. If I made a mistake, my instructor had the patience to ask me to pull over within the next 5 minutes safely. He’d explain perhaps what I had done wrong, what I could do better and what the signals/symptoms were in knowing what to do next in that situation. If I had a bad day or seemed to be unable to concentrate on the road because my mind was clouded then he’d tell me to leave my (driving) mistakes in the past and focus on the present. I am telling you this because I think it all relates. It all relates to life.

Prior to this driving/learning streak however, I had a BAD instructor. Not exactly an end-of-the-world situation but I don’t recall anyone else making me feel as horrible as he did. It was a mix of unfamiliarity to such a situation, practically a dead-end, having nothing else to compare it to which poses the question: what do I do? Alongside, another question: it’s my fault isn’t it? 

And let me tell you, self-blame is bad. 

This bad instructor actually made me feel so negative that I despised the lessons, despised driving as a whole. Of course, any relationship is somewhat mutual – maybe I wasn’t the student for him to teach and he wasn’t the teacher for me to learn from. Except, objectively judging – there were too many flaws in his teaching, yet a way of manipulation that not only slowed down my progress (maybe even postponed it), but also caused a reverse-effect where I wanted to rush because I hated the lessons so much.

Now. In thinking that maybe I was really bad, I tried very hard. That in itself, is already a bad sign. Driving is a skill that should become natural and in-practice a step at a time.Yet strangely, I felt that I had to try very hard because my “normal” would sometimes annoy him, even if it were a small mistake. The mistakes were not actually the problem – but the attitude, his attitude. Remember what I mentioned earlier, about how my other good instructor would explain what I had done wrong? This one never explained anything. There was never any therapy. (More like insanity). Instead, he’d shoot my confidence straight away – “you’re too dangerous for the road, you shouldn’t be on the road”. No problem solving, no prompting, only the stating-the-obvious (honestly, my mother could’ve done a better job).

“Therapy” was not only largely lacking – it was incredibly unavailable. He would cancel lessons once, maybe even twice a month and very last minute which I didn’t even know was remotely possible for it to happen so often. The reasons? Tax meeting, sickness, driving wife to airport, driving daughter off to university, more sickness… It was no wonder I had next to zero progress under his guidance if any. An unorganised mess in the making, with scraps of paper in some worn-out notebook pretty much describes how much he cared. A timetable dialled into his phone (no paper version it seemed) which personally, I don’t trust any version except the paper version! (I should have known better).

Enough was enough. I ended this nightmare without much explanation through text, saying I needed a break because clearly there was no progress. I was so frustrated, because part of me still felt maybe when I did have a lesson, I was rubbish. Conversely, having come out from the other side of the rainbow, I realise that he was just a really awful teacher who did not teach, did not care and quite frankly, was alienating and patronising. Never again.

Bad teachers are bad characters. Good teachers are good therapists.

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