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New curriculum to revolutionize driver training


Date: 1995-03-15

This article originally appeared in Vol. 5, Number 1 of Driver/Education, in March 1995

The emphasis on outcomes that's been driving a strong wind of change through educational systems everywhere is about to hit driver education.

Boring classroom sessions will become a thing of the past. Time-wasting "joy rides" with instructors will go too, and everything that the driver education community does will become subject to close scrutiny and hard-nosed decisions about its value in achieving training and education goals and objectives.

That's the thrust of a summary of a Novice Driver Education Model Curriculum Outline released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The summary is not so much a blueprint for a curriculum as a proposal for revolution--it points directions in which all kinds of initiatives, from graduated licensing to parent involvement and community participation, will play a role in shaping how new drivers are trained and how their attitudes will be shaped as they embark on their driving careers.

"The new driver education," the summary states, "will not be the result of a single top-down exercise, nor will there be a single, monolithic curriculum. It will develop in a pluralistic and competitive way, although governments may need to expand their role by setting standards and coordinating efforts. It will include families, communities, and youth groups as well as schools."

In other words, sitting students in a classroom or a car for so many hours, having them pass paper and pencil tests, and then letting them proceed through the system, will no longer do. The students will have to demonstrate their skills and knowledge.

That has interesting implications for the way driver training and education are conducted now. Managers have become skilled at processing students, but with other agendas intruding excessively on the safety goals of programs. (For example, meeting commercial bottom-line requirements or providing additional income for an already-busy high school teacher.)

"At the moment, the delivery system is good at meeting time requirements," says educator Owen Crabb, "but if the time requirements were thrown out the window and only outcomes counted, how would programs fare?" The emphasis on outcomes will reverberate throughout the system in a profound way, Crabb believes.

Obviously, a very challenging time is ahead for the driver training/education community. Developments will be taking place across a broad spectrum-from interactive multi-media learning programs to community-based activities and parent involvement. "The driver education industry must lead the educational and organizational change that's needed if driver education is to become an effective safety intervention," the AAA report urges.

Read the report's executive summary.

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