Book 1 Reviews

I hadn't realised what an eye opener your book would be for me. It certainly gave me an insight to the difficulties of less able learners and has made me think much harder about why some of my 'perfectly normal' pupils are just 'not getting it', but the biggest thing about the book, for me, was what it told me about myself. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that it was like an epiphany.       G

To anybody that has not read the book, please buy the book and read it. It is a fascinating book and it has changed the way I teach for the better.  B

Your book is fantastic. Yes you have a whinge, but you justify all the points you make. R

I have started reading it again. It is a fascinating book, but understandably controversial. B 

After reading your book I felt, at last, I have read a book about teaching people to achieve and boosting confidence and self discovery that has learning to drive as a theme, as opposed to an Instructors manual of do's and don'ts.  A 

I have just spent the day with your book - I found it very readable, down to earth, and I agree very much with your views and standpoint.
I am challenged by all you articulate and hope I have been intuitively aware of the issues, but now want to be more conscious about how I adapt my training to the varying needs presented by the diverse students/clients who come to me. (A)

Got your book the other day, couldn't put it down! So many things I could say about it. I had no idea there were other people out there not doing every lesson 'the dsa way'. 
I have quite a few pupils with specific learning needs, I'm always looking for new ideas on how best to help them.

Simply loved your book....hope u do write more soon!    (E) 



I loved the book, my best bit of CPD to date.               (A)



Enjoying your book. One of my older students could not remember PP so I adapted my teaching and just showed him a diagram of where to start and where to Finish. He was doing it independently before the end of lesson.  (S)



What a great read, I have picked up some great tips - thanks!    (D) 



Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your book. One idea of yours that I am most certainly going to try is the introduction of an auto transmission car for all customers. (P)



Thanks for your book . I think it is absolutely wonderful and I want more copes for our trainers to use.  C.



Review  in ‘THE WAY FORWARD’ by Eddie Robinson Aug 08

When noticing that one of our DIDU members had written and published a book I felt compelled to read it, although reading has never really been my forte. In any case I duly purchased a copy at £7.99, flicked open the outer cover and never looked back. What I have to say in the next few paragraphs only scratches at the surface of the various teaching methods and ideas contained in this book.

In my view this book could not have been published at a better time as DSA are currently consulting with stakeholders and the public as to what the best changes to make to our training and testing might be. These changes are long overdue and should be inclusive of all parts of our society, the young, the old, the poor and last but not least, those with Special Needs.

There is no doubt that John Brown bares his soul within these pages, he tells it as he has seen it from his own unique experiences as a teacher and more recently an ADI working at the coal face on a daily basis. Refusing to pull any punches, he constructively offers alternative methods of teaching that he has proven to work in the field.

Some ‘experts’ may not like the unorthodox teaching methods up for discussion in this book, because at times they are directly opposed to the ‘tick box’ mentality that currently prevails within DSA and then ultimately our profession.

Personally, I would compare the author’s approach to his pupils as that of Hugh Lawrie as ‘House’ in the TV programme of the same name. John has each individual pupil’s learning needs uppermost in his mind and is not afraid to explore every avenue, no matter how unconventional, until he can finally apply the most appropriate ‘medicine’ to meet that particular pupil’s individual learning criteria in order to help them achieve their ambitions and full potential. John starts out by describing how his past work experience led him into driving instruction. He describes his empathy and personal commitment to finding a solution to the void left by our education system when it could not cater adequately for those individuals who did not fit into the curriculum simply because they had different ways of learning. He asks us of our teaching methods and poses the question “If he does not learn the way you teach, can you teach the way he learns ?”.

I feel this is the way that John would like all ADIs to approach their pupil’s education and I found myself agreeing with his suggestions time and time again throughout the book.

John makes mention of the outdated Check Test and the need to replace this with meaningful CPD coupled with a whole new approach to teaching and learning to drive. Unfortunately, as John shows, the DSA system of learning to drive may be failing many pupils because it does not suit their individual learning style. He points out that Q&A techniques can be particularly off putting to some learners, yet ADIs are expected to use it on their Check Test or risk being marked down. Special Needs clients can have unnecessary difficulty with the Theory Test due to the ‘trickery’ contained within the phrasing of some questions, although these pupils are perfectly aware of the correct answer. In one chapter John shares with us some happy, amusing and sad stories of the times he spent with his cousin Derek who had been born with Spina Bifida. On reading these accounts I felt Derek’s achievements in life were truly Amazing.

John offers many ideas that most ADIs should be considering using within their training methods; he talks about ‘Strategies for Learning the Practical’, ‘Mode Switches’, ‘No Shouting’, ‘Hidden Communications’; he questions what we teach and why we teach the way we do? I found it interesting in his segment on ‘Developmental Driving’ when he stated that he always teaches in an automatic before a manual; his reasons for doing this make a lot of sense and having recently added an automatic to my driving school I may well try out some of his ideas. In his list of, ‘Practical activities that can be used to develop skills’, I was amused to find that he recommended to his pupils “Sitting on the upstairs of a bus and mentally making the decisions which they thought the driver should be making.” Some years ago I had suggested this to one of my pupils who was having difficulty deciding when he should give way or when he had priority; --it worked a treat.

I particularly liked the style used by John to relate his ideas and experiences to the reader, at no time does he preach; he states that this book was written, “To stimulate discussion in order to improve the lot of some of our learners and instructors”, that, I think, it will achieve.

If John Brown ever decides to run a CPD course for ADIs, I will be first in the queue.


Review in DIA Magazine Driving Instructor July 2008

A brilliant book on the psychology of teaching and the failure of the DSA.

ADI and author John Brown will need no introduction to readers of Driving Instructor.

A regular contributor to these pages and a regular critic of what he calls the ‘systemised’

process of training and testing learners in the UK- John is also probably the country’s foremost expert on teaching driving to pupils with Specific Needs. This a book represents the distillation of his rich and varied teaching experience, gained both in the school classroom and as a driving instructor; as such it represents an enormously valuable resource for anyone interested in the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the educational process, as well as those struggling to learn a complex skill such as driving (when it may be the teaching at fault).

But that’s only half the story. John’s particular area of expertise may be Specific Needs Instruction, but the real value of the book is its insight into where we have gone wrong with driver training for so many years. Teaching pupils with very specific learning difficulties has given John a unique perspective on the benefits of what he calls ‘personalised learning’- matching the teaching to the needs of the pupil rather than bending the pupil to fit the needs of a rigid and inflexible learning system put in place by those who fail to understand the needs of either party.

If all this sounds slightly familiar, that probably because it bears more than a passing resemblance to the techniques of ’driver coaching currently gaining credence among some road safety academics and espoused by Sir John Whitmore at the recent Safex 2008 conference in London.

But as Mr Brown points out in the book’s introduction, his approach is not academic but ’common sense’ talk; common sense maybe, but nothing short of revolutionary to many instructors and a positive breath of fresh air after so many years of DSA dogma reducing driving instructions from the skilled professional teachers they ought to be to the mindless demonstrators they often are. Wit typical generosity though, John doesn’t seek to point the finger of blame at those in the Agency, but rather, in the manner of the best physicians, identifies the malady and offers the cure.

Obviously self published with no illustrations and saddled with a less than snappy title, John’s book is a no frills labour of love unlikely to make it onto the best-sellers lists. It’s also brilliantly written, peppered with revealing personal anecdotes and startling educational insights, and presents a devastatingly honest appraisal of the current sorry state of the industry. It should be required reading for the DSA.                               


Every instructor would benefit by reading this book and I don't just mean driving instructors;- cycling instructors, teachers, swimming instructors etc. It is a foundation that we all need. It was easy to read and well written so after I have read it again and made notes I want to pass it on to others.  I have made the section on Ownership, the basis of what I do when I meet a new student. I had not thought about it like that before. (N)    


This is probably one of the best books I've ever read. It gave me some excellent tips and it gives some excellent advice and it was written so well and so easy to read. I would definitely recommend it to anyone!!     S