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One and done, or is Testing ever really finished?

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  • One and done, or is Testing ever really finished?

    I had a SM way back when, (that is, way back when I did not realize what was done behind the scenes) that trained and trusted his PLs and SPL and ASPL. The rank cards I have in my Scout daze shoe box are mostly signed by the senior Scouts of the Troop, only sometimes by the adults.
    Did I know the knot? Sure, at least once. But then, we practiced it, setting up tents and dining flies. And also at Troop meetings, where the SPL etc. set up tasks and Patrol competitions so we could try out our skills and REALIZE how much we had forgotten since last month!
    Scoutson realized this when I told him "Tautline hitch, please" when lashing down the package of insulation to the top of the van. Or setting up the clothesline (environmentally sound laundry!). Or rigging his sailboat last summer.
    Looking back, I realize that thru my Scout career, I learned at least six different forms of "Artificial Respiration" and then "CPR". Each time, I learned a newer, more effective type. Each was demonstrably better, more able to acccomplish the task.
    The one time I was called upon to use that skill, I was the only one there who knew and I was glad I had practiced it when I had the chance.
    Knots, fire building and safety, signaling, CPR, knife and axe, plant and animal ID, dressing for the weather, being prepared ("why , for just any old thing") , it all has a purpose and a use. You just don't know when you might be glad to have that skill in your "ability toolbox".
    The skills are there for when we might need them, and need to be "tested" occasionally , just in case. We call this PRACTICE. Challenging the Scout to REMEMBER and USE the skill is easily as important as first teaching and testing him on that skill.

    The REAL test can't be predicted. Will the Scout pass THAT test?

  • #2
    Excellent post, Ssscout!

    The last time I was Assistant Scoutmaster for a troop, I set up games several times that involved tieing a bowline and throwing a rescue rope.

    After a year or so of that, we were out on a snowshoe hike. Our newest Boy Scout got separated from the group and slid about forty feet down a steep slope with several feet of very soft powder snow. He was unable to stand up or climb up the slope.

    The first impulse of some of the adult leaders was to take over the rescue, which would have been a fun way to demonstrate our skills.

    However, I waved back the adults and put the Scouts in charge. And they did indeed manage to tie a bowline, toss the rope down and extricate the Scout, with one boy tieing himself to a rope and descending to help the Scout.

    I am always pleased to be able to recall that rescue, although the process of losing the boy in the first place is a painful one to remember.


    • #3
      I am of the understanding that the reason there are things called Scout Skills is because the scout is skilled in them. That the program the unit offers provides ample and rich opportunity to use those skills whether its using a bowline, cooking food, using a compass or identifying a shrub. Scout Craft is known as such because the scout routinely crafts these items while on unit activities. Its not a once and done, knots, cooking, et al are such a part of the program that there is never a doubt the scouts can do these skills because they could not complete an outing without them. If the program a unit delivers does not afford the opportunity for Scout skills to be used, then the unit program needs adjustment


      • #4
        Since I was a scout 50 years ago, I have never gone on an outdoor activity without using at least a dozen of the skills I learned in scouting. I backpack, hike, kayak, canoe, camp, reenacting, just to name a few. I go out with inexperienced others and spend more time doing what needs to be done for them than they do for themselves.

        There's a strong possibility that the scouts today that don't enjoy the out-of-doors are those that didn't really learn their scoutcraft skills. Sure they got their rank, but they didn't get their education.



        • #5
          I don't think it is a retest.....

          it is called application phase.


          • #6
            You mean Enable phase. :-)


            • #7
              In addition to the actual skill, the scouts'/scouters' credibility is continually tested as well. No one wants to be the former scout that can't start a fire or tie a bowline. "Be prepared" is spot on. It really never ends, and that ain't a bad thing. As Stosh pointed out so well, I use many scout skills from yesteryear each time I'm in the outdoors, be it for scouting or the military.


              • #8
                I sometimes think the real problem is encapsulated with the so-called "one and done" philosophy. One and Done, and equally, the antithetical reaction to One and Done (SMC/BOR Testing/Quizzing), takes the Advancement method, elevates it to the top rank, makes all other methods subservient.

                I think something a lot of folks forget is that the rank requirements are not stand-alone. They often lead to other requirements later. A Scout using EDGE to teach a Square Knot is being given a taste of things to come - check out the requirements to become a Life Scout using EDGE - in a balanced program, this isn't the second time they're using EDGE, they should have been given opportunities to practice what they learned to become Tenderfoot.

                Once a Scout has been signed off on a skill, that doesn't mean he should stop using it again. There is nothing that says you can't have Bobby Tenderfoot go teach a new Scout how to tie a square knot using EDGE. That isn't a test, that's practice - and if a Scout asks why they have to do it again because they already got that signed off, the answer is three-fold: a) it's practice and b) not everything is done for rank and c) because it's the Scout way.

                Don't be afraid to think outside your boxes when it comes to rank advancement either. There should be plenty of opportunities for practice, either on outings, or during meetings, or with fun games that might lead to sign-offs. Does your unit do things like knot relays where patrols compete against each other to tie certain knots at a knot board? Hey, was that Ricky Scout who needs to tie a taut-line hitch that just flew up to the knot board when it was his turn and tied a perfect taut-line hitch as part of the game? Was that Bobby Tenderfoot who tied a perfect bowline? Any reason you can't pull them to the side on the way out of the meeting to sign them off on those requirements without making it some formal thing? Did the Scouts in your first year patrol participate in a first aid meet and showed they had a great grasp of the requirements needed for rank but just haven't had a chance to get signed off on them yet? What's stopping you? Sign them off! Many of the requirements can, and should, be signed off just as a matter of course as the Scouts are being active.

                I think my point is that advancement should be as natural a part of a unit's program as anything else. If you have a good, active program, it will just flow - there should be no real need to plan special times and campouts to work on advancement. It just takes a little bit of time and effort on the part of the SM/ASMs mentoring the SPL/PLC and Instructors/Guides on finding the natural flow. If you're setting up an axeyard at most every campout, is there really a need to schedule totin chip skills sessions for certain camping trips? If a PL knows that they have a newer Scout that needs to work on Totin Chip or something for rank, what would it take for the PL to either pull the lad aside on a bit of free time during the camping trip to work on it, or for the SPL to casually mention to an Instructor that Bobby in the Flaming Arrow Patrol and Joey in the Raven Patrol need Totin Chip - maybe they can carve out some time to take care of that?

                I know that's how things were done in my home Troop - it seemed to have worked out very well for us.


                • #9
                  peri - You mean Enable phase. :-)

                  The Do the book phase!

                  Calico, I agree. It should be natural. PL sees a boy navigating during the 5 mile hike, getting better at it each mile. Gets back to the meeting house. Gets the boy to open his book. Signs off on the navigation.

                  Another scout brings up his book saying he hiked those same five miles. PL may refuse to sign if the only skill shown was repeating "Are we almost there yet?" every quarter mile.

                  Most PL's are more comfortable doing this than making up a hike for everyone just so Johnny could fulfill his requirement. All of the requirements should work out this way.