Captain Doofus & the Traffic Circle

We all have our irrational pet peeves. ¬†Our things that are “small potatoes” but make us want to gouge someone’s eyeballs out.

One of mine is people who don’t know how to drive in a traffic circle. ¬†You know the guy. ¬†That doofus that stays on the outside of the circle even though they’re going 75% of the way around the darn thing. ¬†Everyone sits waiting in suspense at the entrances to the circle, wondering “Will this be the lucky street that this fantastic driver turns on?” ¬†No one can tell. ¬†It literally could be any exit. ¬†And we all have to stay out of Captain Doofus’ way because you just… don’t… know.

“Hey Kids, Big Ben! Parliament!” – GIF from giphy.com, originally from the 1985 movie National Lampoon’s European Vacation

Anyhow, I digress. ¬†One day I was entering a traffic circle and there he was. ¬†Captain Doofus. ¬†I started to mutter driving instructions for him. ¬†“Stay to the inside until you near your exit, dude!” ¬†At one point, while starting to yell out, “How do you not know how a traffic circle works, doofus!?” I realized . . . a lot of people do it wrong. ¬†And if that many people don’t follow the same process that I follow in a traffic circle, are they wrong . . . or is the traffic circle¬†itself wrong?

If like 25% of users can’t use something correctly, the design itself needs to be reevaluated. ¬†This reminded me of education (as things tend to do). ¬†I can remember grading tests and groaning “ugh, they all got this question wrong!” ¬†After further reflection, I’d often realize that either the question was unintentionally confusing or my instruction had led them astray.

That’s an oft-forgotten reason that we do formative assessment. ¬†Not just to assess our learners, but to assess our instruction and content. ¬†If a large portion of our learners are confused, we need to re-think our strategies, design and assessment.

Unsurprisingly, there are a few recently built traffic circles in my area that have signs, lanes and arrows painted in the lanes. ¬†If the drivers were using the traffic circle wrong, you’ve got to change the traffic circle . . . because you can’t change all of the drivers! ¬†And these newer circles changed to accommodate the users.

The moral of the story РCaptain Doofus may not be a doofus.  You may have just designed a really confusing traffic circle.  Or he may have attended a crumby driving school.  But your best move is to design a more doofus-friendly traffic circle.

Published by

Jake Miller

Jake is the host of the Educational Duct Tape podcast, the #EduGIF Guy, a Tech Integration Coach, speaker, Former STEM, Math & Science Teacher, and a presenter.