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TAHAWK

Are Scouts Really Experiencing the Patrol Method?

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3 hours ago, Col. Flagg said:

I have never found BSA training to be wanting in time consumption. That's one of their biggest problems is the length of time they take. They take 6 hours to teach 2 hours worth of material.

Material is their next problem. It is inadequate and out-dated.

Training the trainer is the next deficiency. Their materials for teaching delivery -- and actual course content -- have few good examples and don't teach trainers how to teach well.

I guess it is a matter of perspective. If you know the material then it may seem like a waste of time. For others, there is not nearly enough time. Then I have those who "know all about it", that are consistently wrong in their approach. During my last SM Specific class I had two brand new Scoutmasters, who, by their own admission, did not know a thing. I could have spent two days with them and not answered all their questions. I have also have those that argue with me because "his boys can't handle that much authority and responsibility."

I am perplexed at the out of date comment, when most would argue we need to be going back to methods from the 20's and 30's.

As for Training the Trainer, I'll go back to my original comment about not enough time. I have taken the T3 course and I think the subject was short shifted due to trying to cram too much into a short period of time, it only allowed for highlights and superficial teaching. I was (still am) a trainer long before I got into Scouting, so while I agree that those courses are lacking, I look back to my professional training and there is not comparison in terms of the time spent compared to BSA. I guess that reflects the idea that people are willing ot take the time if their livelihoods are at stake but they are not as interested if it is volunteer work.

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4 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

Start with this: understanding the Patrol Method is not even a learning objective of Scoutmaster basic training per the current syllabus.  It should be THE objective.  

I agree with some of your post and cannot disagree with some of it.

So I'll just make a few points.

  1. I use the syllabus as just that, an outline. The syllabus even states the as a trainer we need to fill the gaps. The syllabus actuall covers very little of the real material, most of what is needed is found elsewhere
  2. I am careful about who I chose to be trainers, because I am a radical evangelist for boy-led and patrol method. If you are not living/teaching that, then no thank you
  3. When I have new trainers, I am always nearby to step-in and assist/set the record straight
  4. When I do teach alone or with one or two others I know well, we often hit the syllabus high-points and make it more conversational, so we can participants can ask questions
  5. Everything I have read, even GBB's writings, the troop serves a purpose, but the patrol this the foundation
  6. When you boil down the actual training (depending on how Gathering/opening and closing are handled) there is only 3-1/2 to 4 hours of training. Some sections could easily have that much time devoted to them, Patrol Method, Annual planning, Advancement come to mind. Because much of what SM/ASM's walk in the door knowing, needs to be unlearned, which take even longer than teaching.
  7. Unfortunately, longer training will not happen, as it is increasingly difficult to get people to take a half day out of their schedule for training now
  8. I do use the Meeting plan and Troop Program Features to teach, but I also teach them how to use them based on where a troop is in their boy-led cycle. I used them in my units to get Scouts accustomed to making plans and using PLC for troop decisions, based on the Patrols decisions. I teach using it as a guide and once they have grasped that I tell them use it/alter it/throw it out as they see fit. A meeting, outing, activity needs to be what the Scouts want, not what the book or SM says. If PLC wants 100% of the time as Patrol time, more power to them. If they want none of it because they regularly meet as patrols, outstanding.
  9. To be honest, I do better teaching/training and coaching from my Commissioner position, I can actually see units in action, and talk about Patrol method and boy-led and give advice

I am not sure it sounds like it with the post, but I am 100% in tune with you on Patrol Method and Boy-led. Which is why I spend so much time (and money) with old Scouting books and material, I want to make sure I have everything available to make every Scouts experience the best it can be.

Maybe I stray too far away from the BSA company line in some folks eyes, but I prefer to look at the syllabus as a guide on what to cover. I expound on the different areas as time allows, which to me really is the problem, not enough time.

Edited by HelpfulTracks

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After reading for months on this site, I asked for 2 books for Christmas. These are the North Star to which my compass points. My wife gave them a special place on the fireplace mantle. 

971624D7-A2EB-4E7D-9D88-5675B0AD2E95.jpeg

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If the adult is only willing to commit half a day, he or she will not complete basic training as it includes many more (but not nearly enough) hours of IOLS.

BSA is strongly encouraging doing the training as a single, combined S24/S11 course, which is more interesting that the 'school learning" done alone. 

But if it were an interactive discussion, led by competent people, it need not be boring.  Given the time, the topics cannot be covered that way.  So necessarily boring.  So less time = more boring.   

The right questions and hints usually get the answers from someone in the class.

I have staffed many courses where the trainees elected to remain after official closing time to further discuss - sometimes for hours.  That is my standard as a course director for whether we have succeeded.

If training is boring, cut training.  If meals are boring, cut meals?  Imagine better meals instead.

1/3 of all Wood Badge staff are primarily selected by BSA decree based on a factor other than competence; namely, total lack of experience staffing Wood Badge.

Course Directors, who should be highly competent, are not allowed to ever hold a significant staff position again, unless that has changed recently.

Just nuts.

Have a question about internal inconsistency or vagaries in the syllabus?  Not allowed to have such questions.  Regarded as poor form.  Holy writ may not be questioned, even if they wouldn't understand Tuckman's conclusions if they hit them between the eyes. ("I am told these four steps always occur and always in a given order.  Tuckman [laughing gently]: "You must be with Scouting.")

Suggestions for change?  Go away.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, .40AET said:

After reading for months on this site, I asked for 2 books for Christmas. These are the North Star to which my compass points. My wife gave them a special place on the fireplace mantle. 

971624D7-A2EB-4E7D-9D88-5675B0AD2E95.jpeg

Those are very nice, I have them as well. Mine are from different printings but both are 3rd handbooks.

I love the old books and anytime I can find one in good shape I try to add it to my collection. They are full of great knowledge and history of Scouting. It is also interesting to see how things are different and the same. My oldest dates back to 1922.

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14 minutes ago, TAHAWK said:

1/3 of all Wood Badge staff are primarily selected by BSA decree based on a factor other than competence; namely, total lack of experience staffing Wood Badge.

Course Directors, who should be highly competent, are not allowed to ever hold a significant staff position again, unless that has changed recently.

Just nuts.

We have a nice solution for maintaining that knowledge/history/esprit de corp etc. Our "Committee" is made up of a large number former course directors.  They are not official staff, but they are part of our Wood Badge family and add so much to our courses. They are great as resources for participants, but even more so for the staff. They are our wise sages, advisers, storytellers, song-masters and cheerleaders.

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5 hours ago, HelpfulTracks said:

We have a nice solution for maintaining that knowledge/history/esprit de corp etc. Our "Committee" is made up of a large number former course directors.  They are not official staff, but they are part of our Wood Badge family and add so much to our courses. They are great as resources for participants, but even more so for the staff. They are our wise sages, advisers, storytellers, song-masters and cheerleaders.

That’s awesome. Our committee is made up mostly of parents who believe in MB colleges and don’t “do” much.

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15 hours ago, HelpfulTracks said:

I guess it is a matter of perspective. If you know the material then it may seem like a waste of time. For others, there is not nearly enough time. Then I have those who "know all about it", that are consistently wrong in their approach. During my last SM Specific class I had two brand new Scoutmasters, who, by their own admission, did not know a thing. I could have spent two days with them and not answered all their questions. I have also have those that argue with me because "his boys can't handle that much authority and responsibility."

I am perplexed at the out of date comment, when most would argue we need to be going back to methods from the 20's and 30's.

As for Training the Trainer, I'll go back to my original comment about not enough time. I have taken the T3 course and I think the subject was short shifted due to trying to cram too much into a short period of time, it only allowed for highlights and superficial teaching. I was (still am) a trainer long before I got into Scouting, so while I agree that those courses are lacking, I look back to my professional training and there is not comparison in terms of the time spent compared to BSA. I guess that reflects the idea that people are willing ot take the time if their livelihoods are at stake but they are not as interested if it is volunteer work.

To your first point (first paragraph), my point there is that the material covered is adequate enough, the materials BSA provides are extremely lacking and the training they give to trainers below sub-standard. My best example comes from one of the ILST training docs. They discuss "best practices in leadership", but rather than giving SPECIFIC examples of leadership and discussing their merits/detractions, they simply say "Lead a discussion in leadership best practices." Really? If these folks know zero about leadership how is this discussion going to take place. You need to give the trainer specific examples to teach or else you end up with training that is non-standard, not repeatable and inadequate unless the trainer himself does the required research.

To your second point (next paragraph), by out of date I mean the training does not jive with the outdoor nature of our program. Removing first aid, for example, is a real mistake but was done simply because the lawyers got involved. Not focusing on the patrol method is another point. Not working in decent leadership training is another.

To your last point (last paragraph), my point is two-fold. First, if more attention was given to training curriculum AND the content (both method and documentation) then the quality of training would increase. Second, if a decent training program (and T3 program with good materials and focused delivery methods) were in place, in the long run training would become easier and faster. At a tech professional I has seen this happen when organization streamline their training and focus on content delivery and quality; what was a 40 hour course can be taught in 20 without any degradation. But it takes time, money and effort.

If BSA took the time to do all of this, rather than focusing on less important matters, they might see adult retention drop and an increase in overall program delivery.

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Another way to make @Col. Flagg's point is that the training is so vague as to be pointless. The training could be tightened up and focused to what's important. The idea of having some concrete examples from which a SM could start from would be much better than a discussion on leadership. I went to visit a troop this week and the SPL was leading the troop. Unfortunately all the scouts just sat there and the adults made presentations. You could call that boy led because the SPL was the MC. Boy led but boys bored.

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Boy-led is one aspects of the Patrol Method.  It is not, in itself, a method, although some at BSA clearly do not get it.  Hence: "Patrols are one component of what we call youth-run, or youth-led, troop."   Scouting.org, "Orientation for New Scout Parents," by Clueless ["we"] (2018).

 

With the time allocated these days, there is no time to get from abstract to concrete - barely time to read the abstractions.

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8 hours ago, MattR said:

Another way to make @Col. Flagg's point is that the training is so vague as to be pointless. The training could be tightened up and focused to what's important. The idea of having some concrete examples from which a SM could start from would be much better than a discussion on leadership. I went to visit a troop this week and the SPL was leading the troop. Unfortunately all the scouts just sat there and the adults made presentations. You could call that boy led because the SPL was the MC. Boy led but boys bored.

The BSA's fundamental flaw in training is that they assume basic training is sufficient.  It is not.  

The fundamental problem with all of this is that the program is too complex to be understood in a basic training.  Look how much time we spend around here talking about patrol method and boy led.  It's ridiculous that every troop does this a different way.  

For the BSA to really fix this, they need to either:
- reduce the complexity of the program
- develop a real Scoutmaster training.  To go to SM training, you should have been an ASM for a while and understand the basics well.  Like Wood Badge (I duck as I write this),  the staff  needs to be pulled from those Scoutmasters that really understand the program.  This should be followed up by a mentoring program.  Take those experienced Scoutmasters and have them mentor the new Scoutmasters.  

 

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The is no process in place to "pull" Wood Badge staff "from those Scoutmasters that really understand the program."  So it does nor happen.  There should be. 

 

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Yes & No.

I'm suggesting a second, alternative course in addition/as an alternative to Wood Badge.  In fact, I'm fine with Wood Badge as the leadership course.  To me, Wood Badge is the leadership course for Committee Chairs, Cubmasters, Scoutmasters, etc...  I think it does a fine job at that.   I've been a staffer twice and really like Wood Badge - but I see it for what it is and is not.

Wood Badge is clearly not a course on how to be a Scoutmaster.  How to mentor the SPL, how to organize patrols, how to organize campouts, how to promote boy led, etc...  I could go on and on.  I can recite the Stages of Team development in my sleep, but I can't tell you how to make patrols work in my troop.

In my council, Wood Badge is done very well.  At the heart of it is a staff that are all very professional about their roles.  More importantly, each member of the staff really, really works hard to do a great job.  For Wood Badge, being a Scoutmaster really doesn't matter - so the staff selection here doesn't really focus on that.  The staffs end up being a mix of positions and programs.  If anything, the staffs are generally composed of very good leaders who really strive to deliver an outstanding training.  The one thing we do have is a very methodical process for finding good staff.  Existing staff all share insights on participants.  This is then used to help find the new 1/3 of the staff every year.  

In my mind, the separate Scoutmaster course I'm suggesting would be different and would be staffed with the best Scoutmasters.  I could see much the same process.  Some key people put together a Scoutmaster curriculum, great Scoutmasters are recruited to review it, refine it, and teach it.  You make it a worthwhile course, so staff are willing to continue year to year.  You rotate in some new staff so that there is a development process that continues to challenge & grow the staff.  Come up with some kind of mentoring program after the fact new Scoutmasters have someone to talk to as they grow in their own positions.

 

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@ParkMan, that's a great idea. What you describe is exactly what I was looking for and I asked if those things would be covered in WB. I was told yes (queue the magic elixir ad).

However there's the practical issue of the current WB group admitting that something else might be useful. People would go to your course and skip WB. That would cause a turf war.

 

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