Welcome to the LDS Scouter Blog. We hope to provide you with valuable information, share useful resources and maybe even improve some attitudes and Ward Scouting programs. The recommended way to use this blog is to start with the post, "Why I started this blog." Then browse through the post titles in the archive (found in the sidebar) for topics of interest.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

It's About Learning

I was talking with our Cubmaster, evaluating our most recent Pack Meeting. She observed, "The flag ceremony every month seems like the first time we've ever done it."

I had to point out that for the boy leading the ceremony, chances are it is the first time he had done it. Of course, that does not make her observations or suggestions to help less valid, but it is important to remember that the point of the boys doing these things is for them to learn.

This is the reason we make the distinction between "advancement" as a method and "personal achievement" as a goal. We have had several well-meaning parents in our pack retro-actively decide their boys had earned awards. They went through the list of belt loops and pins or Webelos Activity Badges and checked things off for the last year, "Oh, he did this and this and this..." then turned it in all at once. Now those boys have some nice awards to wear (actually, many of them are graduating Webelos, so they are not even going to wear the things), but did they get anything else out of it? They advanced, but they did not achieve. They did not learn from the experience (and I hate to think how this is going to translate into expectations in Boy Scouts).

This is why our Advancement Chair has coined the phrase, "Awards are earned intentionally, not accidentally."

In a recent post, the Volun-told Scouter pointed out:

When done right, Scouting is disorganized, messy and inefficient, because it is the Boys’ program. Adults are the facilitators, not the planners; their place is in the background as guides rather than directing from the front. Many adults find this to be anathema to their disposition – adults want efficiency, high levels of organization, etcetera.  But their idea of success differs greatly from the boys'.

Again, the goal here is for the boys to learn, not to have perfect organization. In Boy Scouting, leaders and parents are there to keep things safe and make suggestions. When the adults do too much, it robs the boys of the opportunity to learn.

How much the boys do on their own may come in small steps with guidance, but I think that at every point in the trail, whether you are doing a craft with Wolves or pointing Varsity Scouts toward their Eagles, you need to carefully consider how much "help" to give. Remind yourself that the point is for them to learn, not to get it done or for it to be perfect. Ask yourself whether that goal will be best accomplished by you stepping in to steer a little or by you stepping back and letting them figure things out themselves.


Eric the Half-bee said...

You have an advancement chair!!!???

Evenspor said...

Actually, it's firebirdluver. I was surprised too, when the primary presidency asked us to help out last year as advancement chair and pack trainer. They didn't actually know the names of the positions, but someone must have told them that they needed someone to help with advancements and someone to help with training, and they actually listened.

Josh Dart said...

The Boy Led is for Boy Scouts, whereas Cub Scouts is Adult Led. The Denners have opportunities to lead, but the Adults are more involved at the Cub Scout. It would be improper for Cub Scout Leaders to use the Patrol Method in Cub Scouts, as the young boys are not ready for this level of responsibility.

Evenspor said...

That is true. Thanks for making that clear. Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts both have many opportunities to learn, but they use slightly different methods to do it.

Evenspor said...

Reading back over the post, I can see where it might be a little confusing what I meant by stepping back to let Cub Scouts learn. Here's an example:

Let's say I am building bird houses with the Wolf den. One boy has never used a hammer before, and he is having trouble getting his nails to go in. This would be a good time to step in and show him how to use the hammer more effectively, but I would not do the job for him. If another boy's walls were a little crooked, or he didn't have the most even paint job, I would refrain myself and not say or do anything, because those things are a matter of skill level, and it wouldn't do any good to point them out. Some adults would be tempted in any of these situations to take over part or all of the project to make sure it gets done "right." In doing so, we lose sight of the purpose - allowing the boys to learn through experience.

As you point out, in Boy Scouting, we use the patrol method, which is boy-led, giving them an even greater level of freedom to learn through experience.