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Eagle94-A1

Youth Signing Off on Advancement: Pro and Con

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Ok folks, we are getting a new SM, adults were told last nite and the youth will be shortly.  All the adults are going to be meeting soon, and one of the things I want to push is Youth signing off on advancement. What I'm asking for is your help. I admit I cannot think on my feet, I need to prepare when I  have an "argument" (classical definition not today's meaning, although if things turn out like the last one I went to it may be today's definition). So I'm asking for every possible argument against letting youth sign off, and reasons, solutions, etc to counter that argument.

 

I'll begin.

 

Con# 1 They do not know the skills enough to teach them and sign off.

Pro#1a  If they do not use the skills on a regular basis, and teaching IS (emphasis) using them, then how do we expect 

              them to know the skills? If we tell them they will be teaching, tell them what our expectations are, they will

              perform. (Use example of canoeing instructor for past 2 weeks, who never took a Canoeing MB class).

Pro #1b What better way for them to learn a skill than to give them the expectation that they may need to teach it in the

               future.

 

Con#2   They are not ready to teach; they don't know how to teach, and variations thereof.

Pro #2a  How can they ever be ready to teach if we do not allow them to teach?

Pro #2b  Then why is using E.D.G.E. a requirement for Tenderfoot and Life ranks, as well as multiple MBs, i.e. First Aid,

               Chess, etc.

 

Con #3  It's too complicated for the youth to keep track of advancement and signing off, adults need to do it.

Pro #3   It may be complicated with adults trying to keep track of the entire troop, hence the reason why we have Scouts

              in the troop 2+ years who are still waiting for sign offs for Tenderfoot, Second, and First Class, But a PL who is

              taking care of his patrol would have an easier knowing who did what and signing off than adults.

 

Con #4  It's too easy for the Scouts to abuse, they can withhold signatures ( gives example of such abuse from his

              Scouting days.

Pro #4   It's also easy for a Scout to slip through the cracks like [scout we had issues with], but if we mentor and train the

              PLs and other youth signing off about the importance of being firm, fair, and not abusing it, THEY WILL MEET

              THOSE EXPECTATIONS (emphasis)

 

Con #5 They play around too much, can't stay off the phone, etc during skills instruction.

Pro #5  Could that be a sign that they are bored with adults teaching? And what better way for behavior problems to be

             solved than to have them conducting the instruction, and seeing how their behavior affects everyone, and is

             modeled by the younger Scouts.

 

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

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Scouts can only grow within the boundaries of the adults limitations. Who knows what the scouts can do until the boundaries are removed. Remove the boundaries by taking the adults out of the process.

 

Barry

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Ok folks, we are getting a new SM, adults were told last nite and the youth will be shortly.  All the adults are going to be meeting soon, and one of the things I want to push is Youth signing off on advancement. What I'm asking for is your help. I admit I cannot think on my feet, I need to prepare when I  have an "argument" (classical definition not today's meaning, although if things turn out like the last one I went to it may be today's definition). So I'm asking for every possible argument against letting youth sign off, and reasons, solutions, etc to counter that argument.

 

Only my PL's can sign off on advancement and I let them know that it is their honesty will be questioned before there is any retesting or obvious not knowing on the part of the scout who got signed off. 

 

The other PL's can sign off on each other (I don't have an SPL) . 

 

My PL's know that if I have a scout that doesn't know his "stuff", I can and will check the signature in the boy's book. 

 

I'll begin.

 

Con# 1 They do not know the skills enough to teach them and sign off.

 

Yes because we are a new troop, the PL may not yet be able to teach.  I as SM am able to support the PL with instruction until they are old enough and the troop has POR Instructors.  The PL still tests out the boys in his patrol to make sure the SM and/or Instructor have done an adequate job.  With a troop with older boys, it's time they step up and earn their POR's.

 

One of the first things I teach my boys is how to teach.  I usually don't have boys that can't teach.  If they are asked to teach something, given some time to prepare, the generally come with sufficient skill to cover the topic.

 

Pro#1a  If they do not use the skills on a regular basis, and teaching IS (emphasis) using them, then how do we expect 

              them to know the skills? If we tell them they will be teaching, tell them what our expectations are, they will

              perform. (Use example of canoeing instructor for past 2 weeks, who never took a Canoeing MB class).

 

Last week was summer camp.  I packed the trailer to head home and the boys watched as I explained how to load heavy/light gear in a single axle trailer.  I tied down the load when the tarp went over the top.  At the meeting on Sunday night, we were reviewing knots and one boy commented that the only knot I used throughout the whole securing of the trailer was a double half-hitch.  They do pay attention...... sometimes.

 

Pro #1b What better way for them to learn a skill than to give them the expectation that they may need to teach it in the

               future.

 

If their book is marked off they had better be prepared to teach that skill at any time.

 

Con#2   They are not ready to teach; they don't know how to teach, and variations thereof.

 

All my boys are taught how teach within a month of joining.

 

Pro #2a  How can they ever be ready to teach if we do not allow them to teach?

 

I teach once or twice at the most, then the boys are expected to teach.  It's the responsibility of the PL to make it happen.

 

Pro #2b  Then why is using E.D.G.E. a requirement for Tenderfoot and Life ranks, as well as multiple MBs, i.e. First Aid,

               Chess, etc.

 

Once the boys know how to teach, all that "stuff" is just review anyway. 

 

Con #3  It's too complicated for the youth to keep track of advancement and signing off, adults need to do it.

 

It's the responsibility of the PL to take care of his boys.  Once a PL signs off, he reports it to the OCD ASM to record it.   It's the adult association method of scouting that the boys can talk to the adults if the need arises.

 

Pro #3   It may be complicated with adults trying to keep track of the entire troop, hence the reason why we have Scouts

              in the troop 2+ years who are still waiting for sign offs for Tenderfoot, Second, and First Class, But a PL who is

              taking care of his patrol would have an easier knowing who did what and signing off than adults.

 

Taking care of your boys means taking care of them for the complicated parts too.  An APL is there to help keep things in order and the patrol scribe could step up to the plate as well.  It's complicated because the adults make it that way so they can take the opportunity to lead away from the boys.  It's a control thingy.

 

Con #4  It's too easy for the Scouts to abuse, they can withhold signatures ( gives example of such abuse from his

              Scouting days.

 

And adults can abuse it too.  We have plenty of examples of that on this forum use them too.

 

Pro #4   It's also easy for a Scout to slip through the cracks like [scout we had issues with], but if we mentor and train the

              PLs and other youth signing off about the importance of being firm, fair, and not abusing it, THEY WILL MEET

              THOSE EXPECTATIONS (emphasis)

 

If boys are slipping through the cracks, it's the fault of the PL, not the scout.  If the PL and APL are doing their job, this simply won't happen. 

 

Con #5 They play around too much, can't stay off the phone, etc during skills instruction.

 

Are we talking adults or scouts here?  The PL knows who's goofing off and who isn't, he has a job to do, do it or step aside and let some else do the job.    We hear on the forum complaints about troop officers not performing for POR credit.  Well, this should be pretty obvious, just ask the patrol members what they think of their PL and APL.  All those stupid by-law and troop traditions can be tossed out the window.  Do you trust your PL to get the job done?  Yes or no.  Then move on to the next scout and ask the same thing.  If everyone says yes, another PL signs off on the POR for the PL.  It's not rocket science, just a couple of friendly questions.

 

Pro #5  Could that be a sign that they are bored with adults teaching? And what better way for behavior problems to be

             solved than to have them conducting the instruction, and seeing how their behavior affects everyone, and is

             modeled by the younger Scouts.

 

If the instruction is boring and the teacher is an adult, then yell at the adult in front of the boys, just like you would if if was a scout instructor.  That way all the adults will not want to get caught holding the bag and will make sure the boys teach.  If someone is going to take some heat, make sure it 's not you!

 

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

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Your points are spot on.  Three thoughts.  

 

First, the youth will never learn the skills, the ability to teach or how to be responsible if they are not given the chance.  

 

Second, our PLs / APLs / TGs sign off in the boys book and it is recorded in Troopmaster when the boy attains the next rank.  So it's not complicated. Just test and sign.

 

Third, it works in other Troops.  Enough said.

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Our Scouts sign off every requirement with a few limited exceptions. (Scoutmaster conference, Scout spirit, board of reviews.) 

 

Our Troop's rule of thumb as far as I can remember is that any Scout can sign off a requirement so long as the Scout is of the rank he is signing off for. So a 1st class Scout can sign off 1st class requirements ,but not Star. 

 

It's worked for us .

 

The only con is that sometimes the Scouts pencil whip. If we notice that a Scout is getting a vast majority of the requiremnts signed off by a specific scout we investigate that. It hasn't happened much. Our Scouts are generally good about doing things the right way. 

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There are no cons. IMHO.

 

Pro: adults can pay attention to health and safety like they're supposed to. Or maybe since merit badge counselors are in such short supply these days, maybe they could be out recruiting them instead of bean-counting boys' achievements.

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Hmmm, a First Class PL can't sign off on a Star or Life Scout?  What's with that?  Did he show up for the service hours?  Did he show the MB blue cards? Where those he was taking care of feel he did a good job for POR?  I would think it would be easier to sign off on Star and Life than for S->FC with having to check with every little training detail. 

 

My PL responsibility does not stop when the boys reach FC.  A PL is responsible for making sure the Eagle Scout member of his patrol has the opportunity to work on palms.

 

No, the adults do not need to take over and run the patrol method once the boys reach First Class.

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Yah, hmmm...

 

Movin' to youth run and patrol method is a gradual process, eh?  Yeh can't do it overnight.  Takes time for the adults to get da feel for it.  Takes time for the boys to learn and adjust as well.   If yeh jump into this all at once, odds are someone will say "See! They can't do it!" and then you'll be back to square one.

 

Give yourself and your fellow adults some time to learn, eh?  Give the lads some time, too.

 

Start with the boys who are really active and above First Class, and take 'em on a campout where yeh work with 'em on how to do instruction and help other boys learn skills.  Use EDGE if yeh like, or hopefully somethin' better.   Make those lads instructors, and prohibit the adults from bein' instructors after that.   Let the adults keep the testing/signoff role for now.  It'll help yeh overcome da reluctance.

 

Let that work for a while.  The boys take responsibility for Step 1: A Scout Learns while the adults keep responsibility for Step 2: A Scout is Tested.  The lads can get experience with teaching while the adults are present to offer feedback and quality control.   If a boy comes for a signoff and it's weak, yeh can help the instructor do better.  It's a good start to things, and sets the right tone.  

 

Once the adults see that the boys have progressed to become decent teachers, then they'll be less reluctant to move some of da better ones (presumably PLs) into the role of testing and signing off.  Then those boys will help coach and give feedback to the other boys who are teachin', and eventually train their replacements.

 

Within a year the boys will have it, and more importantly the adults will be supporters.  Then yeh can start to move some of the boys into handlin' Step 3: A Scout is Reviewed and slide da adults out of that as well.  :D

 

Only mistake yeh can make is believin' this is easy, or that yeh can go from 0 to 60 in no time flat.   Odds are that will get yeh a backlash and make the whole thing more slow and painful.  

 

Beavah

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We're talking going 0 to 5 mph here.

 

@@Beavah, the problem is the process does not lend itself to the convenient two-steps of "learning and testing".

You don't get the full benefit of step 1 unless you are implementing step 2.

It's not easy ... no bad habit is easy to break. But, putting off breaking it is not the solution.

 

Bless the SM, he has endured me bucking his system and refusing to sign my initials in any book. I'm not about to wait for a PL to get some tester's certification. But I will, if the PL requests, sit at a table when he's reviewing material with a scout. If the PL is having trouble, I might give him a pointer or two. But, at the end the session, I'll ask him, "So, can your man do the job? If so, sign."

 

If a troop doesn't start insisting on youth sign off sign off starting today, adults will still be doing sign-offs a year from now.

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The process of change needs to be a smooth transition.  Today the SM signs off.  Everyone who has a book and has completed an advancement requirement goes to the SM to have it signed off.  Then there's the gradual transition to the PL so that everyone has a book and has completed an advancement requirement, goes to the PL to have it signed off.  If one talks clearly and distinctly, not too rushed, this transition should take about 30 seconds if done in front of all the boys.   If it takes longer than that it could be a problem. because if that the boys will be confused as to who signs off in their books.

 

I'm thinking those who need more time are concerned more about power control and that could take a long time for some adults to adjust to... if ever.

 

I totally love @@Eagle94-A1's signature!  It is a glaring reminder that if one is going to move forward, step two is more important than step one.  Training is easy, these boys aren't stupid they can handle it.  Trusting them?  That's easy too, these boys aren't stupid, they can handle it.  Letting them lead?  Well, that's easy too, these boys aren't stupid, they can handle it.  So, as an adult why is it that I might think they can't handle it? 

 

Getting the boys to lead is not the problem, getting adults to trust is.  This is why so many use the excuse that the boys can't handle it, it's an excuse for the fact that the adults can't.

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@@Beavah, the problem is the process does not lend itself to the convenient two-steps of "learning and testing".

You don't get the full benefit of step 1 unless you are implementing step 2.

It's not easy ... no bad habit is easy to break. But, putting off breaking it is not the solution.

 

Yah, hmmm....

 

I don't think I understand this, @@qwazse.   Can yeh explain why yeh don't think da BSA's advancement steps are actually distinct steps, or at least distinct elements?

 

Da problem with the teacher doin' the testing is that most of us are content to hear the echo of our own voice, eh?  That's why if you're goin' to be a lawyer or a doctor or an EMT or an airplane pilot or lots of other things da folks doin' the testing are different from the folks doin' the instruction.  

 

IMHO that helps da process in a bunch of ways, eh?  It keeps instructors from fudging when they haven't done a good job (compare grades to SAT scores in some schools...).  It makes da instructor and the student allies rather than adversaries.  Both are workin' together to overcome a hurdle, eh?   More like a sports coach preparin' you for a competition than a school teacher.   It provides natural means for feedback... even if a lad loses the competition, the coach is there to help him try again... and the coach gets to see where he has to work harder.   In Scoutin', it also helps yeh identify "hey, my instructors don't really know this and I thought they did!"

 

Even when yeh allow boys to sign off on advancement, I think there's a real advantage to havin' someone other than the instructor do the testing.  APL teaches and PL signs off, for example.  Or even better, yeh have to go to another patrol's PL for your test and signoff, so that your patrol's reputation is on the line a bit.  ;)

 

Beavah

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....  Then there's the gradual transition to the PL so that everyone has a book and has completed an advancement requirement, goes to the PL to have it signed off.  If one talks clearly and distinctly, not too rushed, this transition should take about 30 seconds if done in front of all the boys.  ...

I think we have a problem with rhetoric. Adults hear the word "gradual" as an excuse to retain control.

 

Stosh is thinking a 30 second transition.

The control oriented leaders are thinking of a 6 month transition, but then they have new elections and an mandatory refreshing of PoRs, and everything else that goes along with maintaining the illusion that they can micro-manage boys' personal growth.

 

There is no transition! Teach your responsible boys what you expect them to have observed when they sign a book.  How you do that depends on the boys. One time, when our troop was small, I just circled them all up and we discussed what would be the right thing to do in some common situations. Now, I just do it one-PL-at-a-time as an SPL/PL asks for help with sign-offs. Other times, maybe your SPL's and JASM's can do some skits demonstrating ethical and unethical sign-offs.  If you have only 11 year-olds, then the SM is going to have to sit with the PL for a quite a few sign-offs. (Especially with this new book, which I find harder than other editions to navigate.) But, until SMCs/BoRs it's the PL's signature on the bottom line.

 

Finally, regarding "Step 2 the boy is tested." Keep in mind that the Advancement Method should not be the only tool for this process. The sign-off on some knot-tying might get you bling, but that alone won't help your patrol win in the knot relay. It certainly won't help you secure those guy-lines at night in driving rain.

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Yah, hmmm....

 

...

Da problem with the teacher doin' the testing is that most of us are content to hear the echo of our own voice, eh?  That's why if you're goin' to be a lawyer or a doctor or an EMT or an airplane pilot or lots of other things da folks doin' the testing are different from the folks doin' the instruction.  

...

You misunderstand. If a PL has a hard time teaching, he's generally not gonna know it until the guys he was trying to teach demonstrate their skills to him.

If indeed the PL has a hard time teaching (e.g., he's never completed the requirement himself), he can get help. If the PL's not sure the boy did well enough on the test, he can ask for clarification. ("Mr. Q are a coot and a snipe two different animals?") Then, as the PL learns through testing he becomes more confident in sign-offs.

 

Breaking this cycle squanders leadership opportunities. There is nothing to be gained from it.

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Please keep it coming. When we have this meeting, I want to be prepared for every naysayer.

 

You guys have heard how my troop growing up did it, i.e. PLs, Leadership Corps members, SPL, and SPL appointed others could sign off on T-2-1 ranks up to their rank. Star, Life, and Eagle were adult signatures, usually MBCs because we didn't use blue cards. MBCs signed the book directly.

 

This is a big deal for me. I know the Scouts, especially the older ones, are chomping at the bit. There have been 4 incidents that have me really pushing Scouts signing off

 

Incident #1 was the guy who had mom sign off requirements. All of the Scouts were shocked at that, and none but one thought he actually earned it. Morale got so bad that "ranks don't matter." as one Scout put it.

 

Incident #2 was  when Gunship found out one Scout in the troop 2.5 years was still Scout because " no one worked with him to do the PT." My thought was, if the PLs, or in his case SPL since he is the PL, could sign off, this would have been taken care of a long time ago.

 

Incident #3 was the canoeing instructors. I knew the SPL didn't have Canoeing MB, he just passed a swim test as a Swimmer two weeks ago FINALLY. But I didn't realize the other Scout teaching not only didn't have the MB, but never took the class at a summer camp. They both did great jobs for first time instructors, and I'm in the process of working with them to earn the MB.

 

Incident #4 was one of my Scouts, who was once one of my Cubs, leaving his book behind. I admit, I was being nosy, and looked at what he had left for Second and First Class. What was in the book shocked me: a few signatures for Second Class, and only 1 for First Class. This is a Scout who has been in Scouting 2.5 years, and in the troop 1.5, and has been a PL. OK I went ahead and signed off on what I know he has done.

 

All 4 combined have reemphasized my push for youth-led, and that includes advancement.

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If a boy can't teach, read, or write, he can still be a great PL.  A PL can sign off on ALL requirements regardless of his own rank. As I might have mentioned ( :) ) PL's take care of their boys.  If a Star scout comes and needs a sign off on his 6 MB's.  He just shows the 6 cards in question, all signed off by MB counselors, and the 2nd Class PL reads through the cards, makes sure 4 of them are Eagle MB's and then when satisfied, signs the Star scout's book. 

 

The Life scout comes to the same PL and says his service project hours are fulfilled.  The PL checks his attendance records for the boy at those activities, and yep, he's done.  Signs the book and life goes on.  What would have been better would have been when the Life scout finished his last hour of service work, the PL said, "Give me your book, you have the needed hours for advancement."

 

Signing off is an administrative duty of the PL.  If he doesn't know how to instruct the map and compass he finds someone who can.  An organized/trained Scout or Tenderfoot scout can do that for a Life scout when it comes to reading the advancement and deciding whether the expectations have been met. 

 

I'm thinking the biggest argument for all these frivolous rules is because the adults want to retain control, especially in the later ranks.

 

Tenderfoot PL, Eagle scout working on palms

 

Eagle: I need you to sign off on my palms

TF PL: Gee, it's been three months already?  That's great! Got your 5 blue cards handy?

Eagle: Yep.

TF PL: You weren't the SPL, but you've been really helpful with the PL guys. The other guys have commented to me about it., I'm gonna mark you down for that leadership thing.

Eagle: okay

TF PL: Mr. SM will check you off on Scout Spirit and do a SMC, and you should be all done and ready for the BOR.  Congrats!

Eagle: Thanks.

 

What's so hard about that?

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