In my courses, I always give students instruction as to the basic operation and maintenance of their vehicles. It is one of the things that I believe in doing to help our students be better drivers. Even so, sometimes it is easy to miss the obvious.
I had an adult female student who was a fairly recent immigrant to Canada. She did well academically during classes and with any written aspect of road tests, but when it came to driving she was a disaster. For the first time in my career, I had a student that I just could not seem to get through to.
At one point, after several weeks of fruitless road instruction, I discussed the issue with her husband and suggested that maybe she would never be able to learn to drive. I thought that maybe he should save his money and give up. The husband, however, persisted.
One day I had her out in the vehicle and was going through the practical instruction part for parking on a hill. Once the vehicle was parked, I asked her to turn the front wheels in the correct direction. She said that she was not strong enough to turn the wheels on the vehicle. I tried to convince her that she was plenty strong enough to turn the wheel. Then she said that she did not want to get dirty. Confused, I asked her why she would get dirty. She thought that she had to go outside and physically grab the wheels to turn them.
Suddenly I had an epiphany. She did not understand that the steering wheel was connected to the front wheels!! No wonder she was having so much trouble driving. She seemed to think that the steering wheel was just a way of telling the car what direction that you wanted to go and it would turn the wheels appropriately.
So I spent some time explaining to her how the steering mechanism of a car worked. Once she understood, her driving immediately improved, and after a few more weeks she was finally able to get her licence.
Sometimes people who are having trouble with a task are mis-understanding something that would never even cross your mind as an issue. I learned a valuable lesson with this student, and hopefully it will make me even more effective as a teacher in the future.