Compulsory basic training is a very good thing. When I got my first bike at 16, (a purple Yamaha FS1E 50cc moped) I had never ridden a geared bike on the road. It was really trial and error. It's incredible I survived. When I was 17, I swapped this for a Honda CB175 (like the one in the photo) that would do 75mph. Although I then continued to ride for another 3 years, I never learned some of the basic skills that I was later taught on the day of my CBT.
No one ever showed me how to ride slowly, which involves using the throttle, clutch and footbrake together - in a car this would be 'slipping the clutch' a big no-no, but on a bike apparently this doesn't harm the clutch.
Maybe it's part of my personality that I don't like to learn by the book, I like to teach myself in my own time, whether it's the guitar, photoshop or how to program the video-recorder.
However, learning to ride a bike or drive a car properly is really a matter of life or death. It seems that motorcycle training now is all about safety and riding defensively.
Another change from the late 1970's, when I was first riding, is the attitude to drinking and driving. We knew it was wrong, but we still did it. I hate to think about it now. I remember riding into a bush after an afternoon of drinking homebrew at my pal Peter's house. I remember dropping my bike outside a pub after drinking too much one night. I needed help to lift it up but still got on it and rode home. Finally I slid off the CB175 one night riding home through Ashdown Forest after an evening drinking. The bike was written off, but I was barely injured. I was lucky no one else was involved and the long walk home gave me time to sober up and think about how it could have turned out.
Later, drinking coffee in my parents kitchen, a Policeman turned up. The bike had been found in a ditch, there were skid marks all down the road and they were looking for a body in the bushes, He didn't breathalyze me, though he knew I'd been drinking, I guess (apart from being too late) he figured I'd learnt a lesson - though he did take me to task for not reporting an accident.
Some things you learn for yourself, some things you have to be taught.