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packsaddle

Be Prepared...for life and the future?

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Thinking about the various ways boys attain rank, some more prepared than others, I note that most of them think that the rank itself is what was important, not the skills and experience and knowledge that got them there. In this case, scouting has much in common with more formal education. Getting there seems to be OK regardless of how they do it.

This has resulted in a rude awakening for many once they arrive in my classrooms, for example. This thread is about that preparedness.

 

It has been a long-standing joke that the most important fundamental question that students in many of the fields of liberal arts need to master is: "Would you like fries with your order?"

But the joke is no joke and today it extends to other fields as well. My personal observations are backed by formal studies and this concern is one reason why I compared (in the parent thread) the political decisions on certain areas of research to Sputnik. In case the symbolism was too obscure: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/02/education/02college.html?_r=1&th=&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&emc=th&adxnnlx=1157196245-lB1vD+ZfIkXcX5aFP+Xd7Q

In short, our best and brightest are less and less prepared to master the studies and knowledge on which our nation's long-term prosperity and security depend. The full Stanford report is embargoed until 12 September but one for Georgia can be found here:

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Pack, excellent questions and thoughts.

 

In my mind, you answered your own question by observing, "... within the global system, economic success will come to the most deserving..." In the long run, what difference does it make if other countries, hungrier than we, overtake us in science and technology? No nation has ever enjoyed dominance in perpetuity. All nations decline and perhaps this is an indicator that the 21st century and beyond will be controlled by others, just as the 20th was controlled by the USA, the 19th by Great Britain, the 18th by France, the 17th by Holland, the 16th by Spain, the 15th by Italy, etc... (pls excuse my historical glossing). Who knows, perhaps the 22nd century will be controlled by Luna.

 

Do not fret about the waning of American ingenuity and scholarship. Look outside your neighborhood. Think globally.

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My son recently received his degree...a BA in History. Now he realizes that Dad was right...a BA in History is pretty much worthless. But, as he said, "I'm sick of school and just want to graduate and get out." He wasn't interested in math or science because it was "too hard". And if he wants to teach high school history, which was his original plan, he needs two more years of school. Meanwhile, he landed a planning job in local government paying the handsome salary of $26,000 a year. Average apartment rents here are $1000 a month and up, so needless to say, he's still here in Dad's house.

 

Another frightening thing is the apparent financial ignorance that is rampant. As the boomer generation starts retiring, very few have significant savings to sustain them through retirement. A lot of companies are ditching their pension plans in favor of 401k plans which the employee has to contribute to and actively manage if they are to be successful. The generation X and Y workers coming behind us are even less knowledgeable and aware. We're headed for a train wreck as a society. The business world and economy are much different than they were 20-40 years ago.

 

Regular or Super Size?(This message has been edited by scoutldr)

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Trevorum, you said   Look outside your neighborhood. Think globally.

You forgot the rest of it think globally but act locally.

To change the nation or world we must first change things around us that we CAN change. Be it scouts or schools IMHO we must make the young see where things are going.

 If we expect high goals from the kids we will get more from them. Making things easy for them just hurts everyone in the long run. Expect them to WORK for their ranks and badges and you will produce excellent citizens who may be the one to change the direction of the nation. I

IMHO, as a vocal group this forum may make it possible to change attitudes of merit badge mills and rank happy groups see that they are also hurting themselves as well as the scouts and the nation. We need to stop supporting the MBMs, IMHO . Dont pick camps with low standards. Let them know you dont want things easy but as the sprit of scouting dictates.

Fire the joy of learning something new in the boys. Not the I have more pieces of cloth than you attitudes. Start with your troop, then your council, etc. It is a slow process, but it can happen.

Respectfully, firekat

P.S.  When was the last time you heard (excitedly) "guess what I learned at camp...!"  vs "guess how many merit badge I GOT" (not the word  "earned")

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Packsaddle,

 

I saw what you are talking about years ago when I was in school so it's not a new development. Many of the students really had no interest in going to school but were pushed into it by their parents (a familiar story in scouting). Many of those drop out BUT I've known a few who squeaked by and then (to the astonishment of many) became very successful at work. On the other hand I've seen some excellent students who were so socially inept that they never got far in the workforce. Good student often but does not always translate into most successful worker.

 

My degree is electrical engineering and having been in the business for a few years I can tell you with certainty that mediocre students often make good engineers. I've given this phenomena some thought over time and I think that one of two things is at work.

 

1. Reality finally hits them when they move into the workforce and realize that they have to do well or go hungry. Many get married at this point and have the dual motivator of a family to support and a spouse to keep them in line (more so for the males). I think that there is also an element of competition with the classmates that they keep contact with.

 

2. School is just a means of getting the job that they want and they are really not interested in much of what is taught. They didn't excel in school except for the subjects that they thought would apply to their work. I lost count of the number of times that I heard something like "What are the chances that we are ever going to use this?" or "When I start work as a [fill in the blank] do you really think they are going to care that I can write a paper on Shakespeare's sonnets?" The people I know with this attitude have done well as employees but were not very good students.

 

On another note... when I was in school I asked every chinese student that I studied with if they were going to go back to China after finishing school. The answer was invariably a polite version of "Are you nuts?". Point is, they may be from China but they will be Americans.

 

I've not read the studies that you mention but I've read that test scores show that students are well prepared coming out of the fourth grade but decline from then on. This could mean that we do a better job thru the fourth grade or it could mean that schools are better at cheating on the test in the lower grades.(This message has been edited by yellow_hammer)

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Yellow Hammer, I know what you mean and I tend to agree. I don't have any statistics on how many of those foreign students stay here but I'm sure many, if not most, of them do. That is good for us but still troubling when I wonder why our own don't do as well. I wonder sometimes if our attempts to provide every advantage for our children just allows them to appreciate things less.

Regarding K-12, my feeling is that through 4th grade, our efforts to dumb them down just hasn't taken hold yet and their innate desire to absorb everything sustains them. After that, I wish I could say the problem was something simple...you know, like 'rap music' or something. But there's more to it, I suspect, perhaps a broad cultural pattern.

Still, as you say, some of them are 'late bloomers' (like I was) and just don't 'get it' until they get some real-world dope slaps. I think we have just as much innate ability as anyone else on this planet. The motivation seems to be different.

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packsaddle,

 

"I wonder sometimes if our attempts to provide every advantage for our children just allows them to appreciate things less."

 

I'm convinced of it. History is replete with rags to riches stories. Somehow, adversity is a motivator. Maybe it's because accomplishment is what gives people self esteem. Teach self esteem as much as you want in school - I think it is a waste of time unless you let them overcome some adversity and really earn their own self admiration.

 

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Gern said, " Well, there is always the rapture isn't there?"

 

I'm sure you wrote this sarcasticly. Most christians I know (self included) don't think this way. But we do think that most of what happens in our short time on earth is insignificant when compared to eternity.

 

Not to say that we shouldn't be concerned about the problems of the world and work to change things, but in the end one's relationship with God is all that really matters.

 

Trevorum,

 

I'm glossing too. In addition to the countries that you list I would go back to the Roman empire to get lessons on what happens to dominant cultures. In all cases they wane because they lose their will to continue the dominance and/or because they lose their military superiority. We still have the latter but I see signs of the former. We are not the same people who believed that it was their destiny to dominate the continent. That's not all bad but still something admirable has been lost as our society changes.(This message has been edited by yellow_hammer)

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"Regarding K-12, my feeling is that through 4th grade, our efforts to dumb them down just hasn't taken hold yet and their innate desire to absorb everything sustains them."

 

Not sure how you can say that. At least compared to when we were in grade school. Today, the kids in K-4 are a full year ahead of where we were when at that age. They come out of Kindergarten reading better than we were at the end of 1st Grade. They learn multiplication in 3rd, whereas we learned it in 4th. I'm amazed at what these kids learn at these young ages.

My son is now in 5th grade, so we will see what happens from here on in. He goes to a very good school (where mom teaches 3rd grade), so this experience may not be the norm.

The biggest problem I see is when they hit Middle School, it is not cool to do well in school. The peer pressure (I hear) is almost impossible to deal with, and even kids who did really well earlier cave to pressure to not be "smart." "Smart" kids make it harder on the slackers and wreck the curve. They are labeled "nerds" and "geeks." Hopefully, Boy Scouts can still teach character and values to the boys in the program, and they will survive Middle School.

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Brent, You're right, that comment was a bit snide. I apologize. I tend to agree with your assessment about the early years, the 'dumbing down' seems to occur more at the middle school ages. However kindergarten was merely a rumor for me and the families around me when I was growing up. But I learned how to read well, well before first grade, and did the math as well, well above grade level all the way through elementary. I think the difference was that my parents stressed this as important and helped along the way. We were rural, working class, and didn't have much in the way of luxury except a luxuriant appreciation for education.

My buddies, with whom I became blood brothers in many different ways, didn't have the same experience. I may be the only person in my graduating class to attain an advanced degree, less than ten percent went on to any kind of college. A huge number dropped out and didn't finish at all. Sadly, at that time, few people seemed to care, it was so 'normal'.

 

Today, even with the progress we've made, after all this time it hurts when I still hear persons in various parts of the South say, "Thank God for Mississippi!" You may be right about the progress and I tend to agree, but we still have a long way to go.

 

And yes, we get the boys in scouting right at middle school. What a great opportunity to show them a better way. I hope it's working.

(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

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