Posts Tagged With: methods

Guided Discovery

This weekend at the Trainers EDGE training we got into a discussion about “letting Scouts fail to learn”.  About half of the room agreed with the idea and the other half agreed that the Scout needs to learn, but using the term ‘fail’ did not sit well with them.
I think its semantics but the goal is to get the Scout to learn.  In Scouting we call it Guided Discovery.  Allowing the Scout to learn by making mistakes, problem solving, and executing solutions to the situation.  The adult leader is there to maintain safety, offer advice, and keep the Scout heading in the right direction.  The leader does that in a subtle way, not doing the task, making the decision, or being up front.  The leader is there to keep the Scout ‘in bounds’ so to speak.  The Scout knows he has a safety net.
So how does this “Guided Discovery” concept work or get put into action.  It is not about letting a Scout hang in the wind.  It is not about allowing failure to occur just for the sake of letting a Scout fail.  No, Guided Discovery happens when we ask questions.  This implies that the leader is engaged fully in this process.  Now that does not require the leader to hover and maintain an arms reach distance.  It simply forces the issue through leading questions to assist in the Scout finding the answer.
Problem solving and role-playing can play a big part in guided discovery.  Many times I ask a simple question, what do you think?  Not what do you think is right.. rather, what are you thinking?  Most of the time this question provokes enough thought and produces a clearer picture of the desired outcome.  Problem solving and role-playing can spark thought and allow the Scout (s) to see possible out comes both good and bad and allow the decision making process to happen.  This is not lofty and can happen at every level.
Using the Start, Stop, and Continue assessment tool in the middle of a task is also a great way to discover solutions and assist in decision-making.  The leader can act as a referee in some cases and step in with a well placed questions that may get the group thinking about alternative solutions.
The goal to allow the Scout to make decisions and learn.  Through Guided Discovery, we teach, coach, train and mentor the Scout to better understanding of skills, leadership, and self-reliance.
So.. what are you thinking?  Let us know, leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Ideals, Leadership, Methods, Scoutmaster conference, Skills, training, Values | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Character again…

HOFWe talk a lot about Character and making men of Character in Scouting.  We spend a great deal of time reinforcing the ideals found in the Scout Oath and Law and expect our Scouts to live those values which will lead him to a life in which he will be counted as one that has Character.
I have talked about Character a lot here in this blog and believe that if we do nothing else with these young men, we owe them the very best training in being a man of Character.
I have said it before and I will echo it till the end of time… I really don’t care if a Scout earns his Eagle as long as he develops Character.  His Character will get him much farther in life than a red, white, and blue ribbon with an Eagle suspended from it.  Having said that though, you all know that I want them all to earn their Eagle, but the Eagle award does not make the man, Character does.
I was listening to some sports talk radio today and they were discussing the “steroid Ballot” for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.  Now, I am not going to bother getting into the details of the discussion and I also will not share my opinion on the ballot.. well actually I am in a round about way.
The reason that this caught my attention was that to the folks hosting the discussion made it an issue of Character.  And yes sir.. that’s what it is all about.  There was an argument that the guys that are on the ballot that used “Performance enhancing Drugs” were Hall of Famer’s before they used the steroids.. well if they were Hall of Famer’s then.. why did they need to cheat?
Mark McGuire who is the only player that actually admitted to the use of steroids said that it was important for him to “come clean” because at some point he had to look his children in the eye and explain all of this.. and that is what got my attention.
In previous posts I have explained the rule of “Saying it aloud“.  It works every time.  I really liked the idea of McGuire holding himself accountable to his kids.  That is a great rule for character.  We are all accountable to some one and we should act accordingly.
Along with the values of the Oath and Law, knowing that at some point we will have to answer for our actions should force us to act with character.  I was listening to Dennis Prager the other day, he said something that reinforced this idea.  He said he did not care how you feel.. he cares more about how you act.  This too plays a big part in curbing selfish behavior and a lack of character.  We live in an era where people feel entitled and that as long as they feel it is ok, then it is.  On the contrary, we are still accountable for our actions and at the end of the day you will have an effect on someone else.  Knowing that at some point I will have to answer for my actions and that the last people on earth that I ever want to disappoint are my children, I act in accordance with my values.  Does it always make those around me feel great.. No, but at the end of the day they can see that I acted with character.
I have made it a point to always demonstrate good character to my kids.  It has not always been the cool thing and at times it has left them feeling like I am mean-spirited or a jerk, but then they realize that I care and want only the best for them and all of us.
We often use the standard of the Oath and Law in our discussion of wrong and right.  We know that at some point we will all have to answer for a decision we make.  If more people used that standard, the world would simply be a better place.  There would not be spouses cheating on each other, there would be less crime, there would be far less Congressmen… oh I just could not resist, but seriously our leaders would be driven to make better decisions… after all they are accountable to US.. right.
So Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa all juiced and had amazing stats in baseball… they are all on the ballot for entry in the Hall of Fame.  We don’t get a vote, but can they say they got in as a player that did not cheat?  Just because they all did it, does that make it right?  Not if you are judging based on character.  If they get in they are in and will have to continue answering the questions about steroid use.  If they don’t get in, they will still have to answer for why they did not get in.. the steroid use.  If they were actually Hall of Famer’s before they used.. they should have use McGuire’s standard of how he would answer to those that are most important.. his kids.  Personally I don’t care one way or the other if they are Hall of Famer’s.  To me, they cheated and therefore lose the privilege of being in the Hall of Fame, but then my only vote is how I look at them in regard to their character.  I judge.
As for me, I will use the values I have and the remember that one day I may have to look in my children’s eyes and answer for my actions.  That should be enough to make anyone remember that Character matters more than Eagle Medals or statues in the Hall of Fame.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, comments, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Methods, Oath and Law, respect, Values | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Merit Badges…

mb_sashThis has been discussed before, but I received an email the other day from a Scouter in our area.  This Scouter does not know me very well, nor does this Scouter know how our Troop runs, but none the less, this Scouter sent a nice email suggesting that we do not encourage the merit badge program in our Troop BECAUSE our Troop is a “Backpacking Troop”.
Well, hmmm…  Let’s see… How do I respond to that?
There are what? 130 or so merit badges that I Scout can choose from right?  And the Scout must have at least 21 to earn his Eagle Award, right?  So there are lots of choices for the Scout to make when it comes to earning merit badges.  At some point the Scout must come to the unit leader.. that’s me… and get the blue card signed to start working the merit badge, which ever merit badge that may be.  When the Scout comes to me to get that blue card signed I sign it.
Now when it comes to encouraging.  I encourage the Scout to earn merit badges.  I have told the Scouts that while at Summer Camp, merit badges are not the reason to be there.  Merit badges are a product of Summer camp and a means to and an opportunity to earn, learn, and have fun while at camp.  So yeah, that may sound I like I don’t “encourage” the working of merit badges, but that’s really not the case at all.
I am a firm believer that advancement and merit badges are the Scouts responsibility to work.  They need our help that’s true and at times they need some poking and prodding to get going on badges and rank.  In that regard, we encourage and promote the merit badges that will get the Scout advanced.
The merit badge program is designed to do a couple of things.
1.  Introduce the Scout to many subject areas that will open his eyes to his world, skills, hobbies and activities, and career fields.
2.  Work the adult interaction method.
3.  Spark interest in the Scout while working toward a goal (advancement).
When the Scout, and leaders understand why we have merit badges, it is easier to understand that they are not the end all, be all of the Scouting program.
When I am told that I do not encourage merit badges because we are a “Backpacking Troop”  I look at the Scouter and ask if they know the methods of Scouting.  Backpacking, Front Country car camping, or Troop’s that never leave the confines of a cabin all work the methods of Scouting.  Advancement is one method and the Scout finds his pace and path to achieve his goals and work his way to Eagle.
We encourage the merit badge program but we do not spend valuable Troop time to work on them, with the exception of Camping, First Aid, and Cooking.  Those merit badges, for a troop that camps 11 times a year are all being worked over the course of the program year and are tracked at the unit level.
If the fact that we are not a merit badge mill is not a way of encouraging… well, than guilty as charged.
Now, I am going to be totally honest with you… many of our Scouts only work the merit badges that they need to advance.  That is not because we are a backpacking troop, nor is it because we do not encourage the merit badge program.  Simply put, our Scouts are having fun.  They spend time having fun at summer camp.  You will always find our Scouts extremely active at camp.  They love to compete and play games.  They spend lots of time at the water front and the shooting ranges.  If they don’t get the fingerprinting merit badge.. it’s no big deal.
We encourage every Scout to earn an Eagle required Merit Badge at summer camp.. don’t care which one… but at least one from the Eagle required list.  Most Scouts work the Environmental Science Merit Badge at summer camp.  That and First Aid seem to be the two most popular.
I don’t make a pitch for some of the merit badges that while for some Scouts are super interesting, knowing the boys of my troop are just ‘filler badges’.  Like the afore mentioned Finger printing.  Let’s face it.. that’s a 10 minute merit badge and the Scout really doesn’t learn much.  A great one for the sash, but not getting him that much closer to Eagle Scout and life skills.
I would much rather see them earn Canoeing, Sailing, Emergency Prep or Wilderness survival while at Summer camp or pretty much any other time of the year.  But that’s just me, I don’t get to force a Scout to earn a certain merit badge, nor do I get to forbid him from working one.  Finger printing, Dog care, Painting, Skating, and Reading, while all great subjects and have a purpose in teaching responsibility on some level and encouraging an interest, I can do without them in the context of Scouting.  I know that I will hear some opposing views on this and I suppose that’s why there are 100 + merit badges so there is something for everyone.  I don’t discourage any Scout from earning any merit badge that he wants to earn.  But when it comes to encouraging Scouts to earn merit badges, well, I just sign the blue card and let them go to work.
I don’t think we need to high-five every Scout that earns the Chess merit badge or the Backpacking merit badge for that matter.  They work it, they earn it, they are presented the badge and they get a handshake and a “job well done”.  We don’t have contests to see who can earn the most and we don’t look down on the Scout that earns the obligatory 21.
I am still not sure what being a “Backpacking Troop” has to do with anything.  This Scouter said that this was “The Reason” we do not encourage the merit badge program.
In closing.  The average number of merit badges that Scouts  have earned at the time they were awarded their Eagle award is 35.  Enough said.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, Backpacking, blog, Cooking, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Scouting, Scouts, Skills, technology | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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