DR. WALLACE: I'm 16, and I want to learn how to drive. My father has tried to teach me, but he is so on edge when he sees me drive that he makes me extremely nervous! It's tough to relax when your father keeps putting his foot on an imaginary brake on the passenger side of the car! He also assumes I'll do something wrong, so he'll yell in advance, "Watch out! Watch out! You're too close to the car in front of you!"
I know he's just trying to help, but it isn't working. My grandmother sympathizes with me, and she says that she would be willing to pay a company for a professional driver's training course for my birthday. My dad says that's a waste of money and we should continue our lessons ourselves. What do you think? — Nervous New Driver, Milwaukee
NERVOUS NEW DRIVER: Learning to drive — to take charge of thousands of pounds of steel capable of traveling at high speeds — is a large step in a young person's life. Many parents simply aren't capable of doing the teaching in a calm and copacetic way. They're often far too nervous and emotional, which leads to a very difficult atmosphere during this process. I know I was that way with my own children, especially my eldest son. Let's just say that he had no trouble hearing the orders I barked out back then. So, I can sympathize with your situation.
A good driving instructor must be skilled with a good interpersonal teaching demeanor and know the rules of the road. I advise you to take up your grandmother on her generous offer of a driving school birthday present. It will be your best gift of the year, and your father may not say it out loud, but he might be relieved to avoid the anxiety he has experienced trying to help you himself.
NOT ALL COLLEGE ATHLETES ARE MINDLESS JOCKS
DR. WALLACE: Why do colleges enroll athletes who will never graduate, who are using the college as a training ground so they can sign a professional sports contract for big bucks? I've got two football players in my art appreciation class; they both think that Michelangelo is a fullback for the Dallas Cowboys. The only reason these guys are in this class is because it doesn't require a lot of preparation or homework. I thought colleges and universities were supposed to be institutions of higher learning, not football factories. — Eye-Rolling Student, Columbus, Ohio
EYE ROLLING STUDENT: College football is a very big business. It's not unusual for 70,000 or more fans to pack a college football stadium every Saturday in the fall. Universities such as Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida and Louisiana State are a few of the schools that sell out every home football game. Money from football ticket sales is used to fund other collegiate sports.
Also, the pressure to have a championship team is powerful. But don't lump all college football players into the mindless jock category. Notre Dame and the University of Michigan, for instance, graduate a very high percentage of their football players yet still manage to play pretty good collegiate football.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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