Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
MaScout

MB's -- Comprehension or Completion

Recommended Posts

As a MB counselor, when a lad comes to me to discuss what he has done for a merit badge and get some items signed off, I ask questions about what is written down or completed. I am looking for understanding about what was done. I have occasionally encountered resistance from a Scout, and more often from a parent, that the Scout shouldn't have to "explain" to me, as long as it is done.

 

Environmental Science is a primary one where this concern is raised. For example, when they complete their experiments, I ask them something like, "So, in the bigger picture of the world or life, how does this relate?" If they don't "get it", we discuss it until they do.

 

When they are to "Find out about three career opportunities in environmental science," & "Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you," I expect them to comprehend what they are talking about. I have encountered great resistance on this requirement. I had one young man (age 12) whose written "report" read a LOT like his 17-year-old brother researched & wrote the report. When I asked him to verbally tell me about the selected profession, he knew nothing about it...not even what the job was! We worked through this, also, but I didn't "just accept it".

 

Am I "adding to" the requirements? Or should understanding be implicit?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say no you aren't adding to the requirements. You would expect they would learn something by completing the requirements and all you are doing is asking what they learned.

 

I do the same for the MB's I am a counselor for.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You may not be adding to the requirements but in my opinion you are making them redo work they have already done. If that requirement has been signed off.

You do not have to accept work signed off from other counselors. And the scout should not have to accept you as a counselor.

The scouts in my sons troop, figure out who makes them rehash stuff they have done and they usually pass this on to the other scouts, so the counselor that does make them do the work again, or explain it in detail, usually do not get a lot of calls from the scouts for merit badges.

 

EDIT

I see nothing wrong with a refresh, but I have seen some counselors spend over an hour on a requirment that has already been signed off.

(This message has been edited by dan)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the requirement is tell, or explain, or discuss with your counselor, it is pretty much impossible to do that if the boy doesnt know what he is trying to tell, explain or discuss. Thats not adding to the requirements, rather it is doing the requirement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are we talking about a requirement that has been signed off or one that needs to be signed off?

When you wrote completed I assumed this to mean the requirement has already been singed off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not talking about things that have been signed off. I'm talking about items the Scout has prepared and have brought to me to present to ANY MB counselor for the first time. They often write the information down so it isn't all "recall", but this is the first time it was discussed with ANY MB Counselor. So when I say "done", I simply mean the Scout has worked through that requirement, but not presented it to a counselor. A counselor is to verify the work is completed. How do we verify it if we don't discuss? Just look at written records?

 

You're right, the Scouts do not have to accept me as a MB counselor. But if they do, they know ahead of time I visit with all Scouts on all MB's because I believe it is an opportunity to learn and I want to verify it is their work. Especially when the requirement says "discuss" vs. "write it down". So in the case described, where they are asked to "discuss", I am wanting them to understand well enough TO discuss, not just read what is on a piece of paper. So -- if they write a report instead of verbally discussing it, AM I asking them to "redo work they have already done" by asking for an intelligent discussion about it? I don't know...maybe I am...

 

In regards to the experiments -- I DO NOT refuse to "sign off" the requirement, but I do want to discuss it with them vs. just looking at the results, so they understand the bigger picture & don't just perform the experiment & write down the answers. There is no learning going on in that situation that I can see. This is NOT confrontational at all...very comfortable.

 

Does this make sense? Now, in this case, I AM asking for feedback on what I see as a judgement call, so "have at it" all. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have no problem with what you are doing. I expect the same from boys that I work with. Just writing an answer down without any understanding of it is not learning. That is what earning merit badges is all about, learning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think what you are experiencing is the current method of "writing a report" for school. Go to the internet, Google your subject, cut and paste some paragraphs, print it and turn it in and get an "A". They are not actually required to "learn" anything.

 

I agree, you are doing the right thing. If the requirement is to "discuss", they should be able to carry on a conversation on the topic without notes. Also, my understanding of the MB process, is that they are supposed to actually meet with the MBC before beginning any work on the badge. In that meeting, you would go over the requirements and explain your expectations.(This message has been edited by scoutldr)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would actually hope that most MBCs would do what Ma Scout describes. Failing to do so brings the integrity of the mb program into question. It undermines the whole purpose and makes the program more about checking things off and getting pretty patches than about actual growth and development.

 

(anecdote coming, ignore it if you want)

 

Not too long ago I agreed (somewhat against better judgment) to help with a mb session at a mb college day. As it was communication mb, eagle required, we were quite popular with scouts. Most had done little or nothing to prepare and they received partials that day, based on what we were able to do in the session. A few really had their stuff together and were able to do all the requirements and/or had written documentation for some that couldn't be done on site (like attending a community meeting). These young men were generally engaged and interested in talking about their experiences. A few others showed up having done no prep work, gave what appeared to be absolutely no thought to the requirements either ahead of time or that day, and yet expected sign offs anyway. One got angry when I explained I couldn't sign off on things he had not done and wasn't prepared to discuss (including, among others, investigating and discussing possible careers in communications- his answers tended to be along the "dunno" line). He shot off to go get his SM to "argue" with me. I was feeling awful about it. And then, scout comes storming back w/ SM in tow and guess what, the SM is a patrol "nest mate" of mine from WB! Imagine the look on this young man's face when SM'bob and I embraced and started singing our patrol song, motions and all, (which is truly a production, let me assure you) in front of a couple hundred other scouts and scouters. The poor scout, I do believe, learned something about communication that day after all. But he didn't get my signature on things he hadn't done and the SM actually thanked me. SM told me later that this young man and his father attempt to bully practically everybody into signing off on practically everything, and apparently it works most of the time - to the scout's detriment in the long view of course.

 

Hopefully most interactions don't include this kind of drama (neither melo- nor theatrical) but still, we are often the only people in a scout's life who gently insist that the boy really do his best. I think it is important to keep doing just that in a caring way.

 

Lisa'bob

A good old bobwhite too!

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all your responses so far & in the future. I really thought I was correct in what I was doing (and yes, they knew the expectations). I REALLY, really hate it when I allow other people to make me second-guess myself! I think it stems from wanting to do my best for these boys...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of my mentors once told me, "When you're not sure what to do, just figure out what the right thing is and just do that." Most of the time, your first intuition will be correct.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't beat yourself up, MaScout. Good caring people always reflect on their actions and choices. That "second guessing" is a strength, not a weakness.

 

Stick by your guns, though. Make the tikes learn somethin', including how to complete a task or project in an honorable way.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds to me like you are doing the right and good thing as a MB counselor. Some lads really appreciate working on a merit badge where the counselor is not just a rubber stamp. My best times as a couselor are when a scout - after having completed the badge or sometimes a couple of years later - tells me or another scout "I really learned something doing xxxx merit badge, thanks!"

 

Sometimes, you just have to stick by your guns though. I had a scout call me to do Fire Safety merit badge last year. He was a last minute Eagle trying to earn his last few merit badges. "I would like to meet with you to do Fire Safety merit badge . . . can we meet tomorrow or the day after . . . I have everything all written out so it should only take half an hour or so . . ." I advised him that it would take longer than half an hour, and faxed him my copy of the requirements that have all of the "demonstrate", "explain", "discuss", etc underlined. But I told him that I would work with him to get everything completed prior to his deadline - if he was willing to put forth the effort, I was willing to accomodate his need. He was not happy; his mother called and was livid. I advised her that he was free to call another counselor as there are several on the district list. He did.

 

I know his Scoutmaster well and called him to relate the jist of the exchange, and explain my position. To my surprise, the SM congratulated me for standing firm - this scout had a history of "shopping for MB counselors" until he found one that would allow him to take the easy road. In fact, he had originally recommended me to the scout as a "good" MB counselor for this particular badge. I appreciated the support.

 

MaScout, keep on keeping on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like you are doing a terrific job MaScouter! Wish there were more like you! I usually make my sons do a test run with me before they see another MB counselor. If they are lacking, we go over the information together until they get it. They go in prepared. I think it is rather rude to waste the counselor's time.

It's akin to taking a class but not completing the homework.

 

From the counselors point of view I have had scouts come in totally unprepared, expecting me to just sign of on requirements. When this happens I usually make them listen to me regale them with things like the history of their communtity (Citizenship MB). I'm sure they WISH they had come prepared at that point! :)

 

I think I have a reputation for being tough, but fair. I know I'm friendly and the boys like me. I also know they go away with something. They haven't stopped calling yet.

 

firecrafter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't see what you are doing as adding to the requirements.

One of my many pet peeves is the Merit Badge Class.

Where the Scouts sit and listen to someone else do the explaining or describing. This type of thing is in most cases just a waste of everyones time.

Eamonn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...