The Scars of Driver’s Ed

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2014 at 2:48 am

By Antonio Graceffo

Now that I am getting my PhD in education, I am reliving my own school days, thinking just how absurd damaging they were.
I remember we took driver’s-ed in eighth grade, in the days before technology. We actually had a driving simulator room in our school. It consisted of rows of numbered student desks with dashboards and steering wheels on them. The teacher sat in the back, at a control panel, next to a movie projector. The projector showed a first person driving film on a screen at the front of the room. A voice on the film would say things like, “At the corner, turn left.” At which point, you were supposed to signal, slow down, and turn the wheel. Occasionally, random things would happen, like a ball would roll out in the street in front of us, and we would be expected to slam on the brakes to keep from hitting the child who came out to retrieve it. Allegedly, the teacher could look at the control panel and know who used their signal or their break, and would give us a score. Of course, this was all in the days before computers. I mean, computers existed, but they couldn’t actually do anything. So, this machine never worked right.
At the time, I believed that it was my school that had the problem. I thought maybe our school’s machine was broken and in need of repair. Looking back, I imagine it was more a case of The Emperor’s New Clothes. I don’t think this machine worked ANYWHERE, but schools paid a lot of money for it, so they couldn’t admit that they had been ripped off. Most of us ignored the movie and just spun the steering wheel in a 360 and made car noises, “brrrroom.” In spite of this thing being useless, my teacher would still bring us there, every week. And he would still give us a score, although he couldn’t see what we were doing. Occasionally, he would call out, “Number thirty-seven, slow it down. Number eighteen you forgot to signal.”
Because the visual was an old fashioned movie projector, the lights had to be off. So the teacher couldn’t see that number thirty-seven was unoccupied, or that number eighteen was making out with number four. Failing that class scarred me so deeply, that to this day, I don’t enjoy driving in dark classrooms.
Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.
Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on
Brooklyn Monk fan page
Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE
Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

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