knowing and doing

Road Religion.

Last week I wrote about my serious car accident. My wife Sandy is still in recovery, but getting better. I am feeling great except for some bruised ribs and a sore knee. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and support.

Since the crash, I've been thinking a lot about driver safety. I've also been watching my rear view mirror in a quiet paranoia as I drive. I've got road religion - a heightened sense that right driving behavior really really matters.

In my previous post I sang the praises of our country's driver's ed program - a practical, effective, real-world "discipleship system" that puts over three million mostly incompetent sixteen-year-olds on the streets every year without killing all the rest of us in the process. This week, had another good reason to think about driver's ed - I renewed my driver's license in the exact same place I first got it twenty-six years ago - the good ol' Tacoma, Washington, Yakima Avenue branch of the Department of Licensing.

As I waited in line for the renewal, looking at kids who looked way too young to drive nervously waiting for their test drives with what looked to be equally nervous parents, I reflected on the brief journey that transformed me from "15-year-old kid without a clue" into "fully-equipped, 16-year-old, responsible driver." I had a chance to take a "fresh-off-the-scene-of-the-accident" look at this time-tested, proven process for change.

Here's what's required to get a license in the state of Washington:

  1. Pass a traffic safety education course, which must include:
    • A total of thirty hours of classroom instruction, with a maximum of two hours a day.
    • A minimum of one hour of behind-the-wheel observation.
    • A minimum of 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training, with a maximum of one hour a day.
  2. Have an instruction permit for at least six months.
  3. Get at least fifty hours of supervised driving practice (including ten hours at night) with someone who has been licensed for five years or more.
  4. Pass a knowledge test.
  5. Pass a vision screening.
  6. Pass a driving test.

Here at Project 28, we're always thinking about how to help people transform. With that in mind, I offer you two time-tested principles of road religion from the trusty DOL that church leaders, parents, and anyone who wants to promote change should start putting to work.

Observation 1 - Transformation requires a good amount of experiential learning.

Experiential learning is exactly what it says: learning through experience. It is watching someone do it, then doing it yourself, until you figure out how to do it well. Yeah, classroom lectures are important. We need to study the rules of the road. But they don't really stick in your brain all that much until you're actually on the road, trying them out. That's why the Washington DOL requires teenagers take a traffic safety course that includes one hour of behind-the-wheel observation and six hours of behind-the-wheel training, in at least six distributed sessions (no cramming allowed, learning is best when spread out over time). DOL also requires they get a six-month "learner's permit" and get at least fifty hours of driving practice with a parent or adult.

Can you imagine a driver's ed program without experiential learning? What would happen if we simply lectured the teenagers a few times and presented the license? We'd all be dead.

Observation 2 - Transformation requires testing.

The teenager takes several tests along the way, to give them a real sense of what they know and how they do. They take a test to pass the traffic safety course. Then they take a written test at the DOL. Then they take an eye test. Then they take a driver's test. The only way to get a license is to pass all these tests, under the watchful eye of an instructor.

Can you imagine a program without these driving tests? One that never verified the teenager knew the rules of the road and actually knew how to drive? Again, we'd all be dead.

Here's the point of all this DOL discussion: measurable change requires experiential learning and testing. Without these vital elements, there's no way to assure we have what we need to safely get down the road.

about erik van alstine

Erik is a change expert and author of the personal finance discipleship system, Breaking Free: Financial Strategies that Transform Debt into Wealth. Breaking Free is like driver's ed in your financial life, a powerful video curriculum that offers experiential learning, assessment, and transformation! Take our free MoneyFinder Quiz to see just how much payoff Breaking Free can create for you!