Learning about learning at DirtFish

Diego driving a Subaru BRZ sideways at DirtFish

That’s me behind the wheel of a rally-prepped Subaru! You may ask yourself, well, how did I get there? I’ll talk about that in a minute, but let’s first discuss what happens in a school.

We’ve all been students. We’ve all been to school. We kind of know what a good educational experience feels like, and we certainly know what a bad one is. But what exactly is the hallmark of a great educational experience? What are the design principles one would use to create something really awesome?

First — and the obvious part — you you to learn something. Table stakes.

But beyond that, how you are taken on that learning journey really matters. Do your teachers care — really care — about you as an individual? Do you learn alone, or collaboratively alongside other students who can provide you with insights and wisdom to complement that of your instructors? Does what you learn stick? Are you set on a climbing journey where every new challenge is just a bit beyond your existing skill level, and does that setup induce a state of being similar to what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would call “flow”? 

And above all, at the end of the lesson, are you even more curious and hungry for learning than when you walked in the door?

I always wanted to learn to drive like a rally driver. As a young boy, I marveled at the racing trophies lining the walls of my uncle Valentin’s flat in Madrid. Before I could drive, I spent a LOT of time tuning (and breaking…) the suspension on a Tamiya RC buggy. In high school, I bugged and bugged my physics teacher until he relented and let me write my term paper on the dynamics of left-foot braking in a Saab 96. Needless to say, Erik Carlsson, Ari Vatanen, and Michele Mouton were among my sporting heroes.

Fast forward a few decades, I finally got to learn the basics of steering with my two feet! (and especially that left one). I was fortunate to spend three days learning from the wizards at DirtFish. Not only did that experience check the box on every educational element I listed above, I can honestly say that it was the best single educational experience of my entire life. Four days after leaving beautiful Snoqualmie, Washington, my brain is still buzzing with all that I learned. For the past month I’ve been dreaming of pendulum turns — I just can’t wait to get back on the dirt to practice it all some more. Here’s a quick video of me making a ton of mistakes driving the DirtFish Subaru BRZ around the Old Mill course, but making it though!:

My sincere thanks to the incredible staff and faculty at DirtFish. What you teach, how you teach it, and the obvious joy you find in the process — it’s truly remarkable. Given where I am in life, I’ll likely never be able to drive like my friend Jeff Zwart, but I look forward to being able to learn even more.  What more can you ask for than that?

Keep it sideways!

Okay, one more video of me learning how to drive sideways. So challenging, and so fun!