Driving Miss Aly

By , February 11, 2011

Yesterday Aly reached a milestone in her young life, one I had begun to think she might forgo entirely. We went to the DMV, and she took—and passed—her learner’s permit test.

This has been an issue in our household for a while. She’s 17 years old, and has been procrastinating on learning to drive.  She took so long that I finally appealed to her Alaska chauvinism. Alaska requires that a learner have a permit for a minimum of 6 months before getting a driver’s license. Put it off too long, I reasoned, and you’ll be away at college before you’re eligible. That could mean that your first driver’s license might be from some other state! That got her motivated.

Aly learning to drive

Aly's first driving lesson, with "Auntie" Katie's farm vehicle in Oregon in 2009 (Photo: Michelle Zeiger).

For a long time, she planned to put off learning to drive indefinitely. Eventually, she realized that every trip to town for her needs required a parent, which began to seem like an imposition to her. She also reasoned that, should she ever decide to date, knowing how to drive would be a prudent safety measure. Still, she put off going into town and taking the test. I think I’ve said it before: she’s not your typical teenager.

She began her education by switching her favored seat from the passenger side of the car to the seat behind the driver, to get a better perspective on the view from that side of the car. We discussed some “ground rules” for learning, establishing that she’s okay with me teaching her driving as the lessons come to me. I got her to agree to tell me if this grows tiresome.

She also got some actual driving experience while visiting my college friend, Katie, on her horse farm in Oregon back in 2009. Recently, she moved her aunt’s SUV about 10 feet in a parking lot. Tiny steps!

I’d bugged her to learn to drive before winter came. Lucky for her, we’ve been having frequent thaws, so the roads are often bare, if she works up the nerve to try driving on them.

We’re looking for some way to get her some driving instruction that would qualify her for a lower insurance rate. Apparently, nothing like that’s available in Haines, so we may not be able to swing it.

2 Responses to “Driving Miss Aly”

  1. Afina Kuiper-Hinrichs says:

    Hello Mark,

    It`s so interesting to read about homeschooling and other cultures. Thank you for sharing!
    Actually, I`m teaching English at a vwo school in The Netherlands, which is a kind of highschool preparing pupils to go to university after passing their exams ( age 16/17) and I wondered if you would mind me using the article about homeschooling on the homestead in class? Our pupils hardly know anything about home schooling so it would be a great way of introducing this topic by your article. Maybe they have questions to ask or would like to write a letter to your daughter ( they are 17/18 years old as well)
    That is the second questions I suppose!
    Please let me know if I`m allowed to use your article and if Aly would be interested to receive some letters/mails from my pupils?


  2. Mark Zeiger says:


    You honor us with your requests! I love that, as a school teacher, you’re willing to expose your students to home schooling concepts. I wish that more teachers in our country would be so bold! I really, truly believe (and, I suppose, ought to write a post about this) that the unschooling concept could benefit everyone. One doesn’t necessarily need to reject standardized education to open themselves up to our human instinct to self educate. Simply realizing that education does not necessarily have to be channeled through institutions is an important first step to becoming a lifelong learner.

    Please feel free to use any of our posts, particularly in the homeschooling/unschooling keyword thread for your classes, your coworkers, whoever. Spread the word! I’d appreciate attribution, of course, particularly if you end up printing it.

    I’ve spoken with Aly, and she would be willing to hear from your students. Please email me at akzeigers@gmail.com, and I can share our mailing address with you there.

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