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A Fast Education: Should ‘Car-Culture’ Be Taught In Schools?

The modern world has become dominated by the transport culture, most specifically the culture of ‘the car’. Our society rests on a solid foundation of communication, trade and distribution. The global transport system therefore is one of the most fundamental aspects that ties together every ‘sector’ of our world, whether this be business or personal. Of all methods of transportation, arguably the most comprehensive is the road network which accommodates everything from our cars, buses, vans, coaches and lorries to name a few. In our daily lives, most of us will interact with either the road network or the vehicles that use it. Cars especially are becoming increasingly vital for success in our lifetime. However, the auto-verse does not feature in the education of many young people, how can this be right? With so many applications, should ‘car culture’ not be an indispensible part of the education system?  

The Global Road Network. Image and Data Credit:

The Global Road Network. Image and Data Credit: CIESIN Columbia University, March 2013

For any regular readers of my posts, I am not often one to use scientific reasoning and hard data to illustrate my arguments, but this is an issue that I do feel passionate about. Firstly, I would like to draw your attention to the image you see above; you may be wondering why the world is covered in various shades of yellow. The dark yellow that covers most of the map is a representation of the extent of the global road network, based on the research conducted at Columbia University. To therefore argue that cars, transport systems and road safety is not relevant to the education of young people is somewhat silly.

The definition of ‘school’ is an institution for educating children; it gives them the key skills they need to go out into the world and forge their own paths, both in terms of career and personal development. If schools are in fact there to teach the young generation about the ways of the world, it would be almost misguided to leave out essential skills like road safety and traffic education from the national curriculum.

It is not just me that shares such an opinion; the Institute of Advance Motorists (UK) believes that road safety should become a mandatory part of the curriculum, so as to reduce the number of incidents on the road involving young people. If they are aware of how traffic systems operate, it will reduce the risk to themselves and drivers on the road. Furthermore, a recent survey has shown that only 8/15 European countries have mandatory traffic education courses as opposed to voluntary ones.

As a child, I do remember various adverts on television about how to safely cross the road (STOP, LOOK, LISTEN and all that) and while being taught how to ride a bike on the main road basic traffic information was given. However, a few adverts and a voluntary riding course may be a good start, but I do not think it is enough. In the future, I would like to see a more comprehensive exploration of how young people interact with the world around them (most specifically roads, considering for many of us the ‘world around us’ is jam packed full of roads with vehicles on them).

While undertaking my research for this article, I also found various quotes I have pulled from people on the topic of cars, driving and education. The first of these is an insinuation that merely teaching young people about road safety alone may not be enough. Relating back to my original point about the dominance of the ‘car culture’, this person believes that the physical act of driving itself should be integrated into education. It would also give each person the knowledge to make an informed decision to then embrace the ‘car culture’ or not:

“I think in a modern world, driving is SUCH an important life skill and SO required for life that it should be formally taught in schools so that, in time no-one would be able “not” to drive…if however they chose to, or used their money differently that would clearly be their choice rather than being hampered by an inability to do it…” 

I have to say that I agree with this; learning the rules of the road is important, but I do not think that it goes far enough. In a similar way that we are often taught about how to write a successful CV and how best to act in an interview, I believe that driving falls under the same category. Driving encompasses both the personal and the professional side of someones life, while also providing prominent risks.

I believe that young people deserve to be taught about something we interact with all the time

I believe that young people deserve to be taught about something we interact with all the time

Across the UK, more and more ‘young drive’ experiences are cropping up all over the place; my first ever driving lesson took place on the ‘Young Drive Experience’ at Brands Hatch race track of all places. As a 12 year old, it was the most exciting thing I had ever done. What made it so good was that it was in essentially a simulated environment with minimized risk, but it was the same sensation as any driving experience. I remember back to my early school years when we would be taken to the local swimming pool to learn how to swim. I was always told that everyone should at least know how to swim and then choose not to do it. If driving isn’t ‘relevant’ to be taught in schools, may I ask one question; how many times do you find yourself having to swim to work? If swimming is taught so the skills are obtained, then it should be the same with driving. After all, people drive a hell of lot of more than they swim.

I have often spent many an hour, writing many a rant on some of the stupidity I encounter on the road. I find myself wondering whether these people have either (not so) common sense or a shred of intelligence. It seems others on the internet take a similar view to me on such issues, and clearly the idea of teaching road safety and driving in schools is nothing but a good plan:

“I can only dream for a time when the skills of the average driver are on a par with the writing, mathematical and analytical skills of the average school leaver!”

Of course not everyone shares the same views on this issue. Some believe that driving is not something that needs to be taught, which means schools can focus on the more important aspects:

“But you don’t need to drive. Far better really if people didn’t, for the environment really. If people are happy enough to take public transport then that’s great. Far better to teach first aid, finance, proper cooking etc”

While naturally I have nothing but respect to opinions such as these, the examples that were provided as things that were ‘far better’ to teach could also be classified under the same banner as driving. Surely not everyone needs to be able to cook, there are other options. Online banking and accountants are making handling our finances easier and not personally necessary. The same could also be said about first aid; it is not (hopefully) a constant need and there are those (paramedics) that are already trained in such things. Where I am not trying to belittle any of these elements; they are all in there own way vital to a healthy and successful lifestyle and I do believe they should be taught. But technically speaking the same argument can be applied to those as driving. Therefore, either none of these should really be taught in schools or (and this is the more likely) they all deserve their rightful place in the education system.

Career in the Dubai police force? I bet you want to learn about cars now..

Career in the Dubai police force? I bet you want to learn about cars now..

I believe that this is an important issue that does need some proper discussion and debate. This article serves more as an introduction to what I believe is a much wider issue.

I will be following this up with further posts about how in detail, I think cars (and motorsport) can be integrated into the school system in a way that is not only beneficial to the development of young people, but make education something more engaging.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69 for more updates

Keep Driving (and learning!) People!

Peace and Love!

 

One comment

  1. chris glynn says:

    Really enjoyed this one, very informative.

    January 30th, 2015 at 7:25 am