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MollieDuke

Quality Control in Advancement Is it Needed?

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I spun this from another thread because I like the term Quality Control. I think this is the missing link in Scouting Advancement.

 

I have many co-workers in Scouting that do exactly as in the initial thread "Well, I'll just mark it off" for whatever reason. We need a quality standard to shoot for whether that is tying a knot correctly 8/10 times or whatever. We SHOULDN'T have to have QC because a scout is "trustworthy", but it seems like that is going down the drain fast.

 

How can we promote Quality Control within Scouting without having to mandate it? How can we get parents to realize that it's not a race to Eagle or the boys to realize that quality COUNTS! I wish all leaders could have the guts to say "That's not quite good enough, Scott. Practice it and try again next week." because like the initial post said, if it were a basketball camp, that probably wouldn't happen.

 

Also, during summer camp, why do we have all these 6th graders come for first aid merit badge and leave completed? Can they remember all that basic first aid well enough to recreate it properly if the LEADER was the one in trouble?

 

I really feel quality control is KEY and is going down the drain in many cases which directly affects our image as an organization as well as many other things.

 

Thoughts on that BESIDES "do better"?

 

Just wondering.

 

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Mollie,

Depends on your role in the troop. Assuming that you are SM/ASM/CC/AC, here are some suggestions:

 

>How can we promote Quality Control within Scouting without having to mandate it? How can we get parents to realize that it's not a race to Eagle or the boys to realize that quality COUNTS!

 

Make this a topic at a meeting with SM/ASM's/troop committee, and gain consensus on expectations. Then host a meeting for all parents and communicate those expectations.

 

> I wish all leaders could have the guts to say "That's not quite good enough, Scott. Practice it and try again next week."

 

Not everyone is in the same space, especially if expectations have not been discussed among the leaders. It is quite possible that those leaders believe that if they said something such as that, they would not be supported by the other leaders.

 

For first aid MB (or any other MB that you believe is being treated as a "gimme"): Dont approve the camp counsellor as MB counsellor for the badge. Rather, give the scouts the name of the MB cousellor that you want them to use.

 

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Always wondered about the term "Quality Control", does that mean we fear Quality and need to control it?

 

Certainly Advancement needs to have oversight. When a requirement is checked off, did the scout demonstrate the skill? Will the sill be used in the next 3-6 months, or ever? If a particular Merit Badge Counselor does not hold the scout to the requirements, is the counselor held accountable? If you beleive the Council SUmmer Camp is a merit badge mill, what have you done to correct the problem?

 

If a Board of Review finds a scout was checked off on a topic he shows evidence of knowing nothing about, is the person who checked off the scout held accountable? No process is without some area that could be improved, I see Advancement in this light

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I wish all leaders could have the guts to say "That's not quite good enough, Scott. Practice it and try again next week."

 

Yah, I think yeh hit the nail on the head here, MollieDuke.

 

In the end, makin' sure kids learn and actually meet challenges comes down to some youth or adult leader sayin' exactly that. Or Mother Nature makin' 'em cold and miserable and nobody "rescuing" them, but that's harder to guarantee, eh ;).

 

The troops I know that use advancement well have adults who share the vision, like VeniVidi describes. And they never approve a MBC or an adult who DOESN'T share the vision. Kids are kids, Advancement is a game. If yeh can take a shortcut to get to the next level, that's one way of playin' the game... "find da weakest link"! If the adults share the vision, there won't be a weak link.

 

Often there's one SM or CC or such who can be identified as "the keeper of the flame." They're the ones who are most likely to say "Great try, now practice some more" and to push other adults in the same direction. They're also da ones who step up and confront all da usual nitpicky "don't add to the requirements" "handbook loophole" "my son should not be denied advancement just because he is clueless about CPR" complaints that are inevitable.

 

If da SM is the Keeper of the Flame, QC happens at SM conferences. If da CC, it's BOR's. Either way, havin' somebody who keeps the Standard allows everybody else to insist on it who otherwise might waffle. "You better learn it well, George, because you KNOW Mr. Scoutmaster is going to catch you if you don't."

 

Beavah

 

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Quality Control in Advancement, don't we already have it?

 

In order for a scout to advance in rank they have to pass a Scoutmaster's Conference and Board of Review. While the members of the BOR are not allowed to retest skills the Scoutmaster can retest all he wants.

 

We also have the Scoutmaster in other ways that he serves. He should be watching over his Assistants and supervising their practice of advancement. IT should be up to each individual Scoutmaster to rely his expectations to the Assistant Scoutmasters and any older scouts that he has allowed to sign off books.

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hotdesk,

 

Not every Troop does, not every program offered does.

 

Almost three years ago, we took the Troop to the SAC Museum up west of Omaha. Great place! Everything from very early aircraft to a B-1. The KC-97 Stratofreighter, which I saw flying into and out of Van Nuys Airport (ANG base there) as a kid, was on display! :)

 

They had a "overnight MB program." It was excrement. MB MILL. The "talk with a professional (whatever the requirement is)?" 150 kids in the theater.

 

I don't know about other places, but overnighter MB wonders? Exciting learning about something new becomes a checkblock, and the MB is no more than a bauble.

 

This is but one anecdotal example. I'm certain others can give their own horror stories, of FCFY programs at Scout Camp which insist on signing off Scout Books, to MB mills, to...

 

To me, it comes back to how a Chartered Partner chooses to employ its license of Scouting in its youth serving program. If garbage is desired, garbage is received. If doing it right is demanded, getting it done right happens.

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"the Scoutmaster can retest all he wants. "

 

I would have to disagree. If the SM has delegated lower level advancement item signoff to a PL, Troop Guide or ASM, and that person signs off on a requirement, the requirement is completed, period. Now if the SM talks to a number of 1st or 2nd class candidates and it seems they can't duplicate a skill, the SM needs to talk to the one who passed the candidate in the skill in the first place. The candidate has fulfilled the requirement in accordance to the way the unit has set up it's advancement process. The SM needs to fix the process he set up, not penalize the candidate.

 

At the T-1st class level, scouts are not expected to master skills for the purpose of advancement. They learn and demonstrate and complete the requirement. As they progress in scouting they will find they re-use those skills they learned on outings, and for more advanced MBs. By the time they are STAR or LIFE, by then they find they actually begin to master some or even most of the basic T-1st class skills.

 

This all assumes the unit is running a decent program where the skills are used on a regular basis outside of advancement. If the unit is not hiking, camping, cooking by patrols, participating in district events, etc. where the skills are used over and over again or adults step in and do the work, whether it's cooking, camp set up or navigating a trail, the scouts will never master the skills.

 

SA

 

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>By the time they are STAR or LIFE, by then they find they actually begin to master some or even most of the basic T-1st class skills.

 

I respectfully disagree with this (at least a little bit) in the context of not learning T-2-1 skills due to poor sign-off. My experience was that if scouts did not learn the skills during their T-2-1 journey, some would avoid situations where they would have to use those skills, including opting not to participate in high adventures. Yes, change the process if it is not meeting needs. But help the boy by making sure that he learns the skill(s).

 

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MollieDuke,

 

Good topic. The problem I see is that no body wants to be the bad guy. I've seen the "it's good enough" mentality used a lot. I think you are touching on a wider American society problem where we are teaching children to do just enough to get by. You see in the schools, scouts, and even sports (which is highly competitive) that just average is ok. Want to know why American business is getting kicked around by the rest of the world (I have been to 40 countries and it is)? It is because we are teaching our children to be average, not exceptional! Why get an A when a C is passing?

 

Boys will take the First Aid MB at summer camp because it is "easier". The question becomes, will they know the material a year or 3 down the road when they need to perform it to save their lives or yours? The QC is in the program, we just have to have leaders with enough courage to say no when a boy doesn't know material, and enough compassion to push them to do better.

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Good dialogue so far. I have to agree with Herms, though, in that we are teaching our country's youth to be average. I hosted exchange students in the past from different countries and they are shocked to see how "easy US schools are" and "how little discipline there is here" and similar comments. Additionally, I have been asked to serve as CC for the remainder of the year (until I move in March, actually), and having done this in the past for two other units, I am not satisfied with the QC of this unit. I am discussing it, but frankly, they feel that since I'm merely placeholding until the CC recovers from an illness, that my opinions don't matter much. I also see it in summer camp where kids don't get the REAL feel for a badge, but the SM wants them signed off as was said in the discussion "Because it's easier". I wish we didn't have a quality we didn't have to control, but it seems as if mediocre is good enough for many so I guess we actually do. Just my 2 cents.

Mollie :-)

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We have troops in our district that don't have quality... Boys are given merit badges and rank and really don't have a clue. We have a young man in our troop ask questions of our SM about how Scouts can receive merit badges that obviously they haven't earned. A friend of his from school and church who is in a different troop (one of those Eagle Mills) was wearing his hiking merit badge. Well the friend, when asked, couldn't even talk about where he had done his hikes. Don't you think a 14-15 year old who is an honor student could even remember one of his hikes (at least one of the 10 milers or at very least the 20 miler) .. especially since he is quite overweight?? The same Scout who was questioning his friend is also very aware of how much a checkoff most merit badges are at summer camp. Our concern is how to answer the conscientous Scout how the other kids are getting away with things like this. We try to do right, and just tell them that we are living by the Scout Oath and Law and hope they are mature enough to accept that.

 

 

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If the SM has delegated lower level advancement item signoff to a PL, Troop Guide or ASM, and that person signs off on a requirement, the requirement is completed, period.

 

Nah.

 

The paperwork is completed. Not the requirement ;)

 

The first ingredient of Boy Scouting Advancement is "the Scout Learns." If the Scout really hasn't learned, it doesn't much matter whether he has managed to complete paperwork or scam a test signoff from "the weakest link."

 

We don't do kids any service by givin' 'em awards they don't deserve, or recognition for something they haven't achieved.

 

And da BSA does set a standard for rank advancement, both for T-2-1 and for MB's. It's not expert-level "mastery." But it is proficiency. In Boy Scouting, recognition is gained through... proficiency in activities related to outdoor life, useful skills, and career exploration." (Rules & Regs Article X).

 

Mostly, I've found that kids live up to the expectations we set for 'em. And the extent to which they value Boy Scouting in the long term is directly proportional to how high and how challenging our expectations are. Provided, of course, we care enough to stick to 'em, and to live up to them ourselves :).

 

Beavah

 

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While it is not appropriate to require it, I still do it anyway. It is a reasonable expectation that the scouts learning the skills for advancement will someday have to be able to teach them to the younger scouts, I have all my scouts teach someone to get credit for the requirement. This means the scout can actually function in the skill. "Teach me the knot." vs. "Show me you can tie the knot." Along with the requirement, the skills of leadership must be included. This is easy enough to do if all your First Class scouts can teach any and all of the requirements at any given time in their scouting career. If the patrol is not boy-led, who's doing the teaching? If it's boy-led, is it not safe to assume that the boys do the teaching?

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A local college does the Chemistry Merit Badge in on Saturday session. First Aid is done locally in one day and the requirement to construct your own first aid kit is usually ignored.

 

A better First Aid MB would only have one requirement "Earn Red Cross First Aid Certification, including CPR".

 

The problem is that too many Scouters treat Scouts as T-ball instead of American Legion. T-ball is barely baseball, infinite strikes, rules don't really matter. Am Legion is real baseball and the rules are the same for everyone. That's what Scouting should be.

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""""If the SM has delegated lower level advancement item signoff to a PL, Troop Guide or ASM, and that person signs off on a requirement, the requirement is completed, period. """"

 

Sure that requirement is done, but the Scoutmaster Conference may not be completed. If the Scoutmaster feels that the skills are not learned (forget mastering them) the Scoutmaster doesn't need to complete the Scoutmaster Conference. He can tell the scout to go home and practice the skills and then come back in a week or two.

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