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The vastly different philosophies we adults and scouters profess

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After last night's board of review, we committee members were discussing the conversation we had had with the scout.

 




We had been having a conversation with the Scout about his frustrations in his POR.  He's currently the troops Instructor, and was saying more or less that he gets frustrated when he's trying to teach something and they aren't paying attention.  Someone had asked him why he thinks his students didn't pay attention, and his answer was that maybe they don't care. And when asked how that made him feel, he said that it makes him "not care either."

 

So anyway, when reviewing with the other committee members, i said something to the point of this....

Well, really there's nothing wrong with it.  It should be that the student wants to learn.... that it's that individual scout's journey to make.  It shouldn't be about forcing it.  

 

To which, I get a stern..... "it's different when they are this young.  you have to push them."

 

I broadened it out to the whole eagle concept saying more or less that if a scout doesn't want to make eagle it should be his choice to make....and if a scout doesn't want to make tenderfoot it's the same thing....  As I write this, I wish that I would have stressed that he'll do it when he's ready.... and that it'll be more constructive that way.

 

At another point in the board, I said something to the scout about making it fun, and that when you boil down scouts just want to have fun, and asked if that was true for him.  I was shocked to learn that it's not.  He proceeded to spout of something about being in it to learn.   I would believe this coming from some few gifted overachievers, but this scout doesn't exactly fit that mold.  Smart kid no doubt, and a good scout, but he's just not that scout.   I couldn't help but to think that this young scout is a victim of brainwashing, that he's been conditioned to think that scouts is X, Y, and Z..... and that is the correct answer.  In my thinking that X, Y, &Z is really nearly opposite of what scouts is or should be. 

 

Anyway, it strikes me that there are such vastly different philosophies in our approach to our jobs as scouters.  Conflicting even.... and I'm firmly in the minority

 

But it seems that the majority of scouters just have strong counter opinions.  They think the scouts are there to be taught.  That scouts should be made to do things, pushed to learn.  Misguided and to me it seems it could even be downright damaging to a scout's experience.

 

 

I take the approach that scouting should be fun first.  A boy is there to have fun with his friends, doing the sorts of things a boy likes to do.  That it shouldn't be so much reading and classroom stuff.  That advancement and the like is secondary, or even tertiary, behind fun and character building.....That scouts should be advancing and not even know it almost till recognized.  That the scouts should be running the show, and that they should be running as patrols not as a troop.  That we adults are just there to help and support them.  

I buy into what Clarke Green said about there being One Aim in scouting - building character, and One Method - the patrol method

 

We are two sides of the fence.  When I say things like I did I guess they think I'm just not getting it..... just like I often think they aren't getting it.  I'm open enough to buy that there's advantages in "their side".... that a synergistic blend of the ideas is likely better.....but it's like there is no hope that the program will ever blend.

 

I'm troubled by this.....

 

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I have to agree with you, fun should be first.  I've always felt that if a boy wants to rise in the ranks I'll help him in any way that I can.  If he doesn't, I'll give him encouragement to progress, but I won't push him. 

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I am firmly in the fun camp.  As evidenced by my son, who now 13 is coming up on 3 years in the troop, and has advanced all the way to Tenderfoot. (this is not a debate as to why that happened, suffice it to say I am comfortable with how he got there and place NO blame on the Troop. you can lead a horse to water. . .)He has however gone camping 30+ times including 4 Weeks at summer camp(s) is looking forward to being a CIT for his local Scout camp next summer as well as possibly going to Cub Scout Camp as a Den Chief. 

I am proud of the young man he is becoming and the skills he is learning.  Advancement, well he will figure that out eventually, or not. . .

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Interesting.  Brings to mind a comment made to me about my less than automaton group of scouts at the rededication of Mt. Baden Powell years ago.  B.P. III was there for the ceremony, and we had the opportunity to meet and speak with him.  One of my boys interrupted me briefly with something related to them goofing around a bit nearby, and I apologized to B.P..  His response was that my scouts were doing what his grandfather would have liked, basically having fun and camaraderie, while it appeared a number of other groups were very bored and more military like in their demeanor.  And you will find comments similar by BP himself in many of his writings.

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Not sure if I would be worried since it all depends upon the circumstances.  Different strokes for different folks.  We have many different types of Scouters and Scouts.  Age and goals and personalities all over the planet.  For our BORs we as Scouters have different unofficial goals for each rank.  Tenderfoot has one goal for us: "Is the Scout having FUN!?".  That's it.  Principal is we believe in our program and it will benefit youth but there is no benefit at all if they are not having fun and then drop out.  Second Class goals are: "Is the Scout learning anything?" and "Is the Scout having FUN?".  Get to Star and Life and leadership development is the main goal and fun a lower goal (at that age they are the ones who should be coming up with fun things to do).  Even some older Scouts don't want leadership development - fine with them as long as we can continue to keep the Scout engaged in the Troop by having fun then he'll learn something about leadership by osmosis.  We have a ton attend NYLT each year, and just as many don't. 

 

Our Scouters are all over the planet.  A couple are into OA, some high adventure only, a uniform cop or two, leadership trainers, skill teachers, and some are just there to help do whatever is asked.  The boys learn the personalities and the adults do the same.  Some gravitate to the Scouts they think they can help and some Scouts gravitate to the Scouters they like being with.  Some are super Scouts and others not.  

 

Having fun with a purpose (fun for fun sake is sometimes enough of a purpose), pushing themselves to try new things (rock climbing or public speaking) and youth leadership development are non-mutually exclusive goals for Scouts and Scouters alike.  The differences are as numerous as the commonality in our unit, at least in my opinion.

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I think I'm in the "learn" camp.

Scouts are constantly learning. As a result they discover new ways to have fun.

Boys who aren't learning aren't scouting. As a result they miss out on all the fun.

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I hate viewing it as an either or.  I think that's a big problem in scouting.  People try to force views, opinions and solutions.  

 

I'd rather view it as something that's not working.  Change things to accommodate different mixes of scouts, ages and capabilities.  Scouting is a game.  Look for ways to teach and make it fun.  Instructors don't have to lecture or force the teaching.  Help them find a way to make their role useful.  Maybe some times it will be a sit-down let's learn.  Other times it will be helping the scout that's having trouble or helping a scout that wants to complete a requirement.  

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I am in the fun camp, provided the fun is Scouting oriented, but I too hate to think of it as either/or. And I think that if they participate and have fun, advancement will come to them as quickly as they wish. And sometimes teaching/learning can be fun.

 

Our bigger issue is that we live in an area filled with Type A personalities. Even the stay-at-home moms used to be CPAs at Big * firms before they quit to raise the children. A lot of the scouts reflect their parents attitude that scouting is about earning Eagle for the college resume, and if they don't reflect it then they live it. Some of them are even all about rushing through and getting it at 14 so they can move on to other activities for the resume. Sad, really.

 

But I always tell the incoming parents that the scout will advance at the rate they want. If you push them to advance faster, then it won't be fun and they will just quit.

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I agree with fred, the art of this is finding some fun things that incorporate learning. If there's a boring class that just has to be done then hopefully it will be preparing the scouts for some fun activity. Gun safety is an easy example. Imagine gun safety without the shooting afterwards. Dry. Horrible. So, how to make Cit in the World not dry and horrible? That's art. Once I taught that MB and to illustrate a dictator I took a tennis ball and said whoever is holding the tennis ball makes the rules. Then I tossed the ball up in the air. Mayhem. But they learned something about types of government.

 

@@Ankylus, resume loading is my pet peeve. The problem is the parents think the learning is all from getting stuff signed off. A lot of important learning is a consequence from having fun, or maybe not having fun. The Scout Law falls under that category.

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Okay, first I don't equate learning with getting some lecture.

 

The first thing I remember doing with my BSHB was opening to the knots section, going to the garage, getting some rope, and trying to tie half hitches according to the pictures.

 

This is probably why I don't believe in the EDGE method. Explanations came later ... not until camp.

 

I see scouts coming into the troop (venturers into the crew as well), and they are there because they want to accomplish something ... not necessarily check things off of a list. They read or saw something, maybe heard a tale from an older scout. And they want to do that. Then they want to do it better (longer, higher altitude, with just a tarp, across big water, under open sky, helping more people). In their minds, learning is part of the fun.

 

Those are the ones who become first class scouts (the concept, not the patch).

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To which, I get a stern..... "it's different when they are this young.  you have to push them."
 
I broadened it out to the whole eagle concept saying more or less that if a scout doesn't want to make eagle it should be his choice to make....and if a scout doesn't want to make tenderfoot it's the same thing....  As I write this, I wish that I would have stressed that he'll do it when he's ready.... and that it'll be more constructive that way.

 

I think it's more than just a question of what is more constructive or less constructive for the Scout.  If you push a Scout too far, you can easily push them right out the door.  Then they don't get the benefit of Scouting at all.  Doesn't your troop have kids who quit?  Ours does.  They quit because they aren't having enough fun, or because they have something else they would rather be doing, or a number of other reasons, but they mostly boil down to, the program isn't giving them what they want, relative to whatever else they could be doing.  Sometimes what the Scout "wants" is unreasonable, and maybe what they want to do instead is to sit at home and play video games, but nevertheless, it's their decision.  (Unless their parent(s) won't "let" them quit, which also happens sometimes, bu my experience is that eventually the parent gives in.)

 

So I don't really understand the attitude that "you have to push them."  The Scout does not have to be there.  They don't have to be in your troop, and they don't have to be a Scout anywhere. 

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Yah, hmmm...

 

I think da problem may be that yeh don't understand what's really fun for teenagers.  Yeh seem to think "fun" involves hangin' with friends and doin' what yeh want to do.   

 

I think that's wrong.

 

Teenagers by and large want to be part of something, not just hang out.  They want to be seen as adult - as capable, as good at something.  They'll spend hours beatin' their head against a video game level to get good at it.  They'll spend hours tryin' to master a skateboard trick.  Their brains are wired to be attracted to learnin'.  They thrive on da feeling of developing real confidence.

 

That's FUN!

 

Our problem as adults is that we think gettin' good at something means being lectured at and goin' through a "program" or "class."   In that case, "fun" is what yeh do when you're not bein' made to sit in a class.  It's our hangup, not theirs.  

 

That's why Scoutin' works so well, eh?  When yeh have a lad who has time to get good at something, and become responsible, and lead or teach others resultin' in confidence and recognition, that IS fun!  Patrols, youth leadership, independence outdoors - all those things capitalize on da fun of learning and gettin' good at stuff.

 

Beavah

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In general, teenagers do want to learn.  But they do not necessarily want to learn what "we" want them to learn, when "we" want them to learn it.  ("We" in that sentence meaning, whoever is trying to teach them something at any given time.)  Which is what resulted in this thread, because a Scout who is an Instructor in blw2's troop has difficulty getting his "students" to pay attention to him.  

 

In fact, Beavah, the two examples you mention involve teenagers choosing what to learn and when and how to learn it.  Presumably no adult "assigned" them the task of learning the skateboard trick or mastering the video game.  All other things being equal, the "fun" factor in "learning" Citizenship in the Community, or for that matter, calculus, is probably not going to be as great.  But all other things are rarely equal, they vary from person to person.  In high school and college, my son had fun learning calculus and physics and some computer stuff, but not so much fun learning literature and creative writing, which is why he is now a mechanical engineer as opposed to something else.

 

Also in the original thread is the story of a Scout (the same one) who believes that fun and learning are mutually exclusive, at least for him.  I think we have to take him at his word, since we have no other information to go on.

Edited by NJCubScouter

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Hmmm.....  I don't speak Russian.  But is this an ad for some new back country Siberian scout trailer?

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