Thursday, February 4, 2010

Driver's Education and the State

Emma completed her online driver's ed course and made a 93% on her first try on the exam. She was glad to be done with the course; she did not enjoy the experience.

We used Virtual Drive of Texas, which overall was a good program. The things that Emma groaned through were the things that she recognized as politically correct ideology, most likely required by the state. All of the programs available have to be approved by the state.

The module dealing with drugs was one of the biggest ones. It even discussed growing and selling marijuana and other drugs, sniffing paint, etc. At this point Emma went into defensive mode and started clicking the "next" button as soon as the program would allow it. She paid the drug module no more attention because, she said, "It was stupid." She even had to be subjected to a lesson on date rape. Interestingly, her "preserve my innocence, don't waste my time" tactics did not cost her test points. There were NO QUESTIONS about the drug module on the final.

She began to doubt the veracity of all the teaching when the narrator said explicitly that it was against the law for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol at any time. Emma immediately left the tutorial and checked Texas law where her understanding was confirmed: Minors may drink under the supervision of their parents.

The course presented alcohol consumption anywhere, anytime as negative. Emma knew that the point was to convince students that they should not drink and drive, but to present all alcohol consumption as negative was, in her mind, dishonest. She thought that in order to tell the truth, they should have mentioned that drinking in moderation can be pleasant, and good effects can come from it. She reminded me of the diners in the movie, Babette's Feast and how the wine allowed them to relax and begin to forgive each other for past hurts.

Then Emma had to learn about the Texas litter program, "Don't Mess With Texas". She even had to answer a quiz question about the name of the program. By this point she was leaving the tutorial frequently to watch YouTube videos of the Lennon sisters, who sang sweet harmony and wore really pretty dresses. (Emma could tell this even though the videos were most often black and white.)

When it was time to take the final exam, optional videos were made available. Emma watched them and said that they were very helpful, so helpful that they should have been made part of the main course instead of wasting her time with all the other "garbage". I suspect the state requires a minimum number of hours for a driver's ed course to be approved. The quality of those hours is apparently of no consequence.

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