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memorization requirements ?

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The only issue with scouting that we've found is that he can not memorize anything and repeat it word for word. So if you ask about how to treat something with first aid he can give a good enough answer and can demonstrate' date=' but if you ask him to repeat the Pledge of Allegiance, Oath, or Law he cannot. If I say one of the laws he can tell me what it means to him though. However the requirement for Tenderfoot "Repeat from memory and explain in your own words the Scout Oath, Law, motto, and slogan." Says REPEAT FROM MEMORY. Would you sign off on this or do I need to go ahead and file for disability.[/quote']

The requirement for Tenderfoot state:

"7. Repeat from memory and explain in your own words the Scout Oath, Law, motto, and slogan."


It sounds like this Scout is fine with the "explain in your own words" part. (i.e. "what does "thrifty mean?"). It's the "repeat from memory" part that is a struggle (i.e. "what comes after cheerful?")


However, look at the requirement; it does not say that the it has to be an uninterrupted recital or an unassisted recital from memory. He does not need to recall the Scout Law from his long-term memory and rattle it off without thought or effort in 15-seconds flat. Basically he just can't read it. You can give cues, clues and support as he tries to recall the 12 points of the Scout Law. Use short-term memory, repeating it back in chunks (he's still repeating from memory, he's just being reminded of the lines along the way). Or use clues or cues to help recall the next word or line.


I think the heart of the requirement is that they want the Scout to be familiar with the Scout Oath and Law - inside and out - and be able to explain them. They should be something that he's read, studied and said multiple times... and he should know what the words all mean. If he needs some support saying it 100% properly from memory, I see no reason why he shouldn't be able to get such support to complete it. Holding a Scout that is truly trying his best and giving 100% (and also has a legitimate disability) back from advancing past Tenderfoot just because he can't say the Oath and Law 100% word-for-word unassisted is, in my opinion, silly and counterproductive.



In her son's troop, his merit badge counselor insisted on written reports for every badge. It was exhausting. Her son quit. It was very sad. I understand what her son went through because I know it takes my son 4-5 hours to produce a single written page.

Very few badges require written reports.


There are some merit badges that do -- such as Environmental Science that specifically states "write a 100-word report" on an endangered species or Archaeology that states "write a brief report" about the results of an experiment. But most merit badge requirements do not require any writing...and certainly few that require reports be written.


There are the straight-forward "doing" and "demonstrating" requirements the obviously can't be completed with writing (such as performing a skill, completing a task, making something, attending an event, etc.) These include things such as showing a specific swimming stroke, capsizing and rescuing a canoe, building and launching a model rocket, weaving a basket, attending a town meeting, giving a speech, catching a fish, taking a hike, etc. You cannot do these via writing (writing how to catch a fish is not the same as catching one; and writing about a fictional night camping is not the same as actually camping out)... and requiring an additional written report explaining or recapping what was done (when the requirements require no such thing) is just adding an additional and unnecessary requirement to earning the badge.


However there are many merit badge requirements that start with words such as "explain", "describe", "list", "define", and "discuss." Sadly there are many merit badge councilors out there that want Scouts to do these thing in writing. While you certainly can "define" and "list" things in writing (and preparing written notes can help a Scout collect and organize his thoughts prior to sitting down with a councilor), you can also do these things orally. You can orally list the rules of safe hiking; you can orally explain how to treat dehydration; and you can orally define what an ecosystem is. No need to take pen to paper or type out long prose for these things. Only accepting these things in writing is wrong... and having a Scout write a report rather than having a discussion (especially when it says "discuss") is certainly missing the mark.


If a merit badge councilor insists that a Scout writes his explanations rather than accepting oral explanations they are misinterpreting, misrepresenting and distorting what the BSA actually requires. The requirements are written the way they are for a reason...and very few specifically require a Scout take pen to paper.


You can see the BSA's official stance and reasoning against merit badge worksheets and workbooks here: http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/01/13/merit-badge-worksheets/


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