Je suis Charlie, ambiguous meaning

Je suis Charlie

This image needs no introduction, although its meaning does require a little more thought. You see, the French phrase 'Je suis' means 'I am', that is true, but it also means 'I follow', from the verb 'suivre'. A well-known French saying illustrates the two meanings very well:

Je suis que je suis que je suis

I am what I am what I follow

Common belief is that the meaning with Charlie is 'I am', but it is indeed ambiguous because being a follower means that the person believes in the teachings/beliefs/lifestyle etc of whoever or whatever they follow. In the case of Charlie Hebdo it is freedom of the press and freedom of speech. And freedom is at the heart of the French nation.  So, in essence, 'Je suis Charlie' is a beautifully ambiguous phrase!  The Washington Post similarly sees this ambiguity.

But what has all this got to do with driving instructors and driving lessons?

Currently part 3 of the ADI test requires candidates to demonstrate efficiency in the core competencies by showing that they have spotted the faults, analysed why the fault happened and then helped the pupil to put the fault right. Traditional fault identification, analysis and remedial action. At first glance, due to the need to be client-centred and to be 'coaching', it would appear that the standards check is completely at odds with this training. However, this simply is not true. Instructors are still required to demonstrate the core competencies, but the skill now is in getting the learner to identify the faults, analyse what went wrong and why, and give their ideas for correctling the fault. This is where the instructor needs to develop active listening skills, a much more complex skill than it might at first appear to be.

You see, just like the phrase, Je suis Charlie, there can be more than one interpretation to the words your learner uses, and in the context of learning to drive, it is very important that the instructor is able to accurately interpret the true meaning behind the words spoken, Interpretation, with the spoken word, can be supported by tone of voice, facial expression, eye movements and body language. This is where the written word can cause problems since the benefit of tone of voice and body language is absent.

There is a lot of information on the topic of body language on the businessballs website which I'm sure you will find very interesting and helpful. And on the same website, you will also find information on listening skills

Ed Marshall presented an excellent online seminar (webinar) last year for the Dile, on the topic of 'Active Listening Skills'. The recording is still available to Dile members on the members' website.  If you're not a member, then you can join for free for one month. Thereafter the cost is just £5pcm.


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