“The most important object in Boy Scout training is to educate, not instruct.”
-Sir Robert Baden Powell
One of the joys of being a Scoutmaster is that I get to learn something daily too. In the Junior Leader Training we discuss Communication, a vital component to leadership.
Part of the communication discussion is the parts of communicating, principally- the Sender, the Message, and the Receiver. In a constant feedback loop.
So what does that have to do with the quote at the top?
We have reached a point in our Troop where the message is clouded. Much like a radio station coming in fuzzy or the frequency is off by just a smidge. Our station seems to be caught up in the same commercials too. Have you ever noticed that you stop listening to commercials that are familiar? Especially the dull ones.
Our message is being sent and received, but not heard in some cases.
For example; Basic skills and discipline. The Assistant Scoutmasters and I seem to always say the same thing over and over again regarding basic skills and discipline. At first I thought it was the boys and then I thought about communication and what was missing in our attempt at Effective communication. That led me to the BP Quote above…. maybe we are not educating.. maybe we are instructing. And maybe that is not effective beyond the initial skills instruction. After a while it starts to become a fuzzy commercial.
So what is the fix? Change the delivery of the message? Change the message? Well I think it may be a little bit of both, especially the delivery.
You see Education encompasses teaching and learning specific skills, and also something less tangible but more profound: the imparting of knowledge, positive judgment and well-developed wisdom. Education means ‘to draw out’, facilitating realization of self-potential and latent talents of an individual.
While Instruction is a form of communicated information that is both command and explanation for how an action, behavior, method, or task is to be begun, completed, conducted, or executed.
This takes away the autonomy of the boy led troop to a certain degree. It also takes away the Scouts ability to develop at his own pace and participate at the level he desires. This also affects the way the Scouts process the information. If they are told to do something, they may be resistant, if they are given educated choices, they may tend to come up with solutions on their own. “I am not going to zip up my coat because he keeps harping on me” now becomes, “I’ll zip up my coat because I am getting wet”.
Instructions command, Education leads to guided discovery and that is what we are trying to achieve.
So changing the approach of the message from instruction to education can lead to clearer communication that the Scouts will respond to in a more positive light.
Hmmm… Old Baden Powell had it right!