by Michael Laughy
Roadmaster Drivers School
Have you ever thought about your affect as an Instructor on the outcome of a student’s life?
Over the last four decades, I have found that when a student is struggling academically, the weakness causing the deficit was developed and perpetuated early in life. The learning deficit raises its ugly head with a simple statement such as: “Let’s face it Johnny you will never be good in math,” or “Johnny your vocabulary is bad, you better stick to cleaning septic tanks where good vocabulary isn’t necessary.”
Johnny has no reason to disbelieve his Teacher’s/Instructor’s assessment because the Teacher is the authority on such things. Poor math and vocabulary skills will remain with Johnny throughout his school years and beyond greatly reducing his chances for success. What has amazed me the most is when I push the student to tell me who told them they weren’t good in math each and every student could tell me the teachers name. The student is able to think back decades to the exact day he realized that he wasn’t smart. As Instructors and Teachers we should be required to take a form of the Hippocratic Oath stating that we pledge to “First do no harm.”
When I teach Motivational Training and Safety in property schools and large companies, one of the exercises I like to use is to have each instructor to rate the population from where they get their students. I ask them to rate the population from 1 to 5 (1 being highly motivated, 5 being folks that will never succeed no matter what). The results I receive from this exercise are interesting. Normally it looks something like this:
1 - less than 6%,
2 – 14%,
3 – 10%,
4 – 30%,
5 – 25%.
This means that Instructors believe that 25% will fail no matter what and another 30% are future failures waiting to move to 5 for an incredible 55% of all people in their area are failures at life.
So what does all this mean? When I replaced the numbers with a letter grade (A-F) and looked at individual Instructors’ grade distribution from the prior term, the grades reflected what that particular Instructor believed. One might say that proves the Instructor’s assumption was correct. I hope not, I would hate to believe that 55% of people are failures. In my 40 years of experience I have found that very few students absolutely cannot succeed. When a student fails it is the more likely the trainer that lacks the ability to train that individual. Not always, but mostly. Most Instructors and Trainers that believe as those mentioned above see a new student or trainee as extra work and are known to cut corners to get through the process. Unfortunately, Johnny (and others like him) cannot succeed in an environment that sees them as “extra work.”
As an Instructor please understand that the student has no idea what he/she hasn’t learned. However, you do. That said, it is the Instructor’s responsibility to ensure the student receives the information and can assign the appropriate meaning to the material. Let’s not pile on to the student’s lifelong failures and insecurities. Understand that they exist and prove them wrong. You are most likely Johnny’s absolute last hope for success. But “First do no Harm”.