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  • #16
    Originally posted by EagleScout441 View Post
    Now that I think the issue of my being allowed to teach the MB is settled, can we get back to my original question: Any group teaching advice? I think dcsimmons is the only one that has actually given an answer for my question, is there any further advice? The more the merrier.
    OK, I'll bite: Here's my advice:
    Don't do it.
    Troop meetings are not merit badge school and a main point of the MB system is that boys mature and grow personally by having to contact a stranger, set up appointments, and be accountable to a person. What you are doing is wrong and undermines your fellow scouts' experience. That your troop has been wrong in the past doesn't give you license to be wrong now, and does not relieve you from being wrong yourself if you continue.

    Your council maintains a list of MB counselors, if there are boys in your troop who want the MB, they should call the council and get a real counselor's number.
    Last edited by Scouter99; 08-27-2013, 10:13 PM.


    • JoeBob
      JoeBob commented
      Editing a comment
      Piling on 441, could you help us feel better about your credentials by providing some basic MBC information:

      1- How many years have you been teaching Chess?
      2- How many classes a year do you teach? What is the average size of your classes?
      3- Have any of your students placed well in competition after your classes?
      4- How many tournaments of what size have you personally played in?
      5- What's your highest finish?
      6- Who was your Chess mentor, and what is his playing history?

      Thank you for your help.

    • EagleScout441
      EagleScout441 commented
      Editing a comment
      BD, my troop has done it this way for years, right now I'm trying to find a way to teach this while still following procedure.
      1. I have been playing chess for 8-10 years, since I started scouts I have taught several(probably around 3-5, not sure) other scouts how to play. I also taught my younger sibling how to play chess last year. I have never taught the Chess MB.
      2. If you're referring to Chess, 0, it always been one on one. If you're referring to classes in general, being PL, I've taught first aid and knots several times for the First Class requirements. Patrol sizes average 4-6.
      3. No scouts in my troop have entered competitions(tournaments) as far as I know.
      4. I've been in 8 tournaments ranging from chess club tournaments(2), county wide(5), and a weekend Chess Camp with a tournament at the end.
      5. 1st in a club tournament, 5th in a county wide, and 3rd in the Chess Camp.
      6. It was my Dad for the most part, he never played in tournaments. When I used to go to chess club there was an adult named Rorrey(maybe Rory), he had played in tournaments but I never asked about his placement in those tournaments. He moved away and a few months later I joined scouts.
      May I add that I also played baseball up until I joined scouts, it usually came first over chess.

    • Scouter99
      Scouter99 commented
      Editing a comment
      You cannot teach it while following procedure.

  • #17
    Here is a link to the 2013 GTA. Please do yourself, your troop and your leaders a favor and read the sections on the Merit Badge Program. It won't take long.


    • #18
      "When it says discuss, our troop does it like this: The counselor teaches, the student takes notes, the notes are turned in and graded, the counselor decides whether or not the notes satisfy the requirement."

      E441, it sounds like we are asking you to swim against the grain of a troop's culture. We all have our baggage when we're replying to you. So pardon if we dump our frustrations. But, by letting us rant, you may be doing thousands of scouters a favor, who would otherwise agree with the approach above. Why would they agree? Because it sounds an awful lot like the the disastrous and uncivilized "EDGE" method. Counselor explains/demonstrates, student is guided presumably through note taking, then is enabled by turning in notes.

      The EDGE proponents may say "but that's not what those four words mean!" I say, but that's how they are being interpreted in troops throughout our nation. So, let me provide a few words that leave little to interpretation. This is how the West pulled itself out of the dark ages, the student should:

      REFER to the MB pamphlet or some other book on chess.
      DO or MEMORIZE the reference as best he can on his own.
      DISCUSS in a comfortable setting with the counselor about the material.
      EVALUATE what with the help of the counselor he yet needs to do.
      PRACTICE with friends.
      PRESENT himself to the counselor with a satisfactory understanding.

      Now, the *best* thing you can do for your scouts (even if you are an official MBC) in a troop meeting is introduce the boys to some good references, allow for open discussion of what's in those references without any pressure on the boys to take notes, and set up some practice sessions.

      Effective evaluation can't be done at a troop meeting because it is more than just turning in notes. It's taking an exam. Oral exams, where the person can get an immediate evaluation are extremely efficient. That's why we want our counselors working with just one or two boys at a time.

      It is a lot harder to get 12 boys through this kind of process. But, one year from now, guess which boys are gonna remember the material? Moreover, guess which boys are gonna have the confidence to go out on their own and get more challenging material or contact an instructor on the subject?


      • NJCubScouter
        NJCubScouter commented
        Editing a comment
        I agree with SR540Beaver on the EDGE method. I think it was created just to make sure that the boys (and adults) don't forget a step in the teaching process. Any good teaching method will incorporate those steps regardless of whether you are thinking about the separate elements as you teach. It's just a double-check, in my opinion.

      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        So, your telling E441 it's okay to not offer the boys the merit badge pamphlet or some other reference? That scouts will learn better without it? Should they simply hang on E441's explanation (very good though it may be)?

      • NJCubScouter
        NJCubScouter commented
        Editing a comment
        quazse, who are you responding to?

    • #19
      Here is my opinion about worksheets and notes for merit badges. First of all, it depends on what the requirement is. Nobody should be accepting written material for "demonstrate" or "show", because those things cannot be done with words alone, regardless of whether the words are written or oral. If the requirement is to "explain" or "describe" I think that is a different story. If the Scout explains or describes the subject matter in writing, I would accept that, but it has to be in his own words. So a worksheet written out by the Scout would be ok with me. But "notes", meaning notes taken by the Scout while the instructor or counselor is speaking (which, as I understand this thread, is accepted by the troop in question), would not be acceptable to me. That would just be turning my (assuming I'm the counselor) words back in to me. That is not an explanation or a description BY THE SCOUT. Now, one might respond that the Scout could just take his notes of my statement and write the answer on the worksheet based on the notes. I'm ok with that. In doing that, the Scout is inevitably going to gain (and pass along to me) at least some understanding of the subject matter. He first has to figure out which statements, in his notes, respond to which question. He then has to adapt the words in his notes to the format of the question. He then has to write the answer. Even in that limited process, learning is going on, and he is explaining or describing what he is supposed to explain or describe. In my opinion, anyway.

      "Discuss" is a little different, although I just looked at the requirements for two merit badges at random, Cit in the Community and Chess (ok, that one wasn't really at random), and it seems to me that the BSA sometimes uses "explain" and "discuss" interchangeably, which they shouldn't. "Explain" means you are telling me something - it could be a one-way communication and still meet the requirement (which is why I would accept a written answer.) "Discuss" means that you and I are talking to each other about the subject -- it's a two-way communication. In the case of a merit badge (or First Class requirement number 5 (I think), for which I am the designated "discusser" in my troop) I want the Scout to tell me what he knows about the subject, then I will ask him some questions designed to make him think about it some more, and see what more he knows, then I will usually tell him some things about the subject that he may not know. This may prompt him to say things back to me about the subject. In other words, a discussion. The reason for "discuss" rather than "explain" is (or should be) that the Scout can gain something from what I know about the subject. Now, does that mean the "discussion" can be all me? No. My expectation is that the Scout will do MOST of the talking, but there have been some discussions for the First Class requirement in which I have probably done the majority of the talking, and as long as the Scout is contributing significantly to the conversation, I believe he has succeeded in "discussing" it. This CANNOT be completed solely with a worksheet. PART of it can be. The Scout can write down what he knows on the worksheet, then give it to me, and we then talk about it, and I do my part of the requirement, and he does the rest of his part by answering my questions and adding whatever he has to add.

      It may be that there is some training or guidance from the BSA on what I have discussed (ha ha) above, but I don't know what it is. Hopefully it is something close to what I think it should be.
      Last edited by NJCubScouter; 08-28-2013, 12:28 PM.


      • JoeBob
        JoeBob commented
        Editing a comment
        441: Thanks for you answers above; you've convinced me that you can play.
        But you haven't convinced me that you are qualified to teach the MB.

        Defining the word 'en passant' does not tell your students anything about the move and the conditions under which it can be used.

        Good luck.

      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        S99, you know it's more complicated than that.

        E441's troop is expecting a cradle-to-blue-card program. What will their reaction be if he comes to the first meeting saying "These guys on the internet told me y'all are gaming the system!"? Even if he pulls out the GTA and rattles off section 7, they'll treat him a lot like they did Moses the first time off the mountain top!

        E. just tell the SM you think a good MBC will want to go over the requirements with the boys anyway. But, you'd like the troop scribe to keep track of the attendance, and then for each boy list his attendance record matched with the nights where you covered particular skills/terms. He can show that to an official MBC and it's between the two of them how much gets rehashed.

        My bottom line: a good group instructor wants to maximize time learning and minimize time record-keeping.

      • EagleScout441
        EagleScout441 commented
        Editing a comment
        I gave a very basic definition of en passant, just because I didn't give you a full page definition doesn't mean that I don't know how to use it.

    • #20
      BTW, I really like your idea of splitting the boys into smaller groups. Give each group a reference book (specific to chess -- or a dictionary ... I just found en passant in Websters) and assign them a couple of things to look up. 10 minutes later, have each group present the definitions they found to everyone else. If there's a good way to demonstrate these things, that's a help. So, challenge the group to think of a creative way to present each item. You can correct any rough edges as you go along.

      Does your meeting place have a floor the checkered linoleum tiles? You get where I'm going with this, right?


      • EagleScout441
        EagleScout441 commented
        Editing a comment
        "Give each group a reference book (specific to chess -- or a dictionary ..."
        The only chess specific reference I have is the MB book.
        "10 minutes later, have each group present the definitions they found to everyone else."
        Building upon that, I teach the first group, first group teaches second group, etc., last group teaches me. That method would prove that each group has a thorough understanding of each requirement since they would be teaching the next group. I of course would be in the room while each group teaches to correct them if they get something wrong.
        "Does your meeting place have a floor the checkered linoleum tiles? You get where I'm going with this, right?"
        Sadly, no, but that would be cool, having life size chess demonstrations.As far as demonstrations go, I have a travel chess set that I could use. And I know that at least one other scout that has one too, because he brought with him to summer camp.

      • EagleScout441
        EagleScout441 commented
        Editing a comment
        That method would also knock out any requirements that involve them teaching other scouts, like requirement 3.

      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        Websters English Dictionary probably has most of these terms. Sure you could have the troop acquire a couple of pamphlets for the library, but sometimes it's good to see what you can learn from multiple sources. One really good source (for me) used to be Boy's Life in the 80's! Plus, there are these things called libraries.

        But, this is what separates real MBC's from summer camp hacks. After years doing a hobby they've acquired a variety of resources that may help for some students more than others.

        You need to get out of :"knock out requirements" mode. And, if the last group teaches you something you already know, are they "really" teaching? How about this instead: after all the boys have demonstrated that they know the basics, why not schedule a night with some cub scouts or girl scouts to introduce them to the game?

    • #21
      Seems to me that one sure way of upsetting someone is to tell them that they are doing it all wrong.
      Lord knows that I've done more than my fair share of book thumping and when it comes down to being right?
      I'm your man! I thought I was wrong once, but I made a mistake.
      A good many of us do what we do, because that's the way we do things. Or because that's the way it's always been done.

      I strongly dislike MB classes, parents who are MBC for their own kid and the idea that a Lad can earn just about every MB out there without ever going outside of his own Troop.
      It happens and like a lot of what happens, when it goes on long enough it just becomes the way things are done.
      I always seen it as being sad that a group of new adult leaders would attend trainings, see all the good stuff that can be done. Stuff that is not hard to find or do.
      Only deep down I also knew that once they got back to their Troop. - None of it was going to happen.

      If there is one area that over time has become: Abused, misused, confused and maybe ruined by good intentions. It's Advancement and Merit Badges.
      Sure, it's easy to point out all the stuff that's in the good books.
      Sure some of us can see and understand that what others are doing. Is not the way it should be done and maybe some of us can get on our high horse and call out everyone who isn't doing the way we should do it or the way we might go about doing it.
      The fact is that a lot of Districts, a lot of Troops and some Councils have ways of doing things that don't follow the good book.

      I haven't played chess in a very long time.
      Kinda think that if I was a Lad, looking through the books that this Chess Merit Badge might seem that it was one that I could fall into.
      Kinda think if I were a SM who had always covered Merit Badges at Troop meetings. (I'm not and never will be!!)
      This one might be something that was a great fit for November when it's cold outside, when because of the holiday time will be cut short.
      Also think if I was lucky enough to have an older Scout who knew what he was talking about? I'd be happy to let him get on with it.

      During my stints as a member of the District Key 3. The biggest pain I endured was the District Merit Badge List.
      Rightly or wrongly? For a few badges the District Advancement Committee said it would be OK if a teacher went over the requirements with the Lad and with the go ahead from the District signed the card.
      In this case. If the Troop does things this way?
      I see no harm in a youth going over the material, explaining whatever needs to be explained and doing all the leg work.
      Hopefully the SM or some other adult might go about finding someone who is acceptable to the District Advancement Committee to sign off.

      There is a chance that maybe? Just maybe a Lad might sneak by and get the badge without really meeting all the requirements.
      This of course is never a good thing.
      But at the end of the day isn't igniting an interest in a subject almost as important as just proving that the Lad is good at it?


      • #22
        There was an article in the most recent edition of Chess Life (the publication of the United States Chess Federation, or USCF), about a parent in Virginia who organized a chess weekend for Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. She did not do the actual teaching, but got experienced adults and scouts to help. I can't link to the actual article, because access is for USCF members only, but perhaps USCF would send you a copy if you asked nicely. It should have some good ideas. I believe (but not sure) that Cub awards and mb were earned, but I don't remember the logistics of how that was done.

        And here is an article about two scouts who organized a successful chess tournament at a local library.

        If you haven't seen the 'Recommendations for Chess Merit Badge Counselors' from merit, you might want to check it out, just for background info.

        Good luck!
        Last edited by Eliza; 09-04-2013, 07:30 PM.