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shortridge

Your biggest instructional or training problem

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Posted (edited)

I’m doing some preliminary research for an academic project and am hoping to get some perspective from unit-serving Scouters on these questions:

- With youth, what is your biggest problem in skills instruction? (Examples: Scouts having difficulty learning knots and lashings; Scouts not having access to key tools or equipment; youth and adult instructors lack certain skills themselves; Enviro Science report-writing is a major obstacle; summer camp staff does not properly test for completion, etc.)

- With adults, what is your biggest problem in leader training? (Examples: YPT is too dull; IOLS doesn’t cover certain skills or is too theoretical and not hands-on enough; SM Specific doesn’t devote enough to a certain method; trainers don’t explain the topic enough at the start or ask for feedback at the end, etc.).

I’m trying to cast a wide net, so any items would be appreciated. Thank you!

Edited by shortridge

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Posted (edited)
34 minutes ago, shortridge said:

summer camp staff does not properly test for completion, etc.)

Im currently going back to a summer camp for my second year as a first year scout instructor (Called something else, but then nobody would know what it means). 

It’s physically impossible for an instructor to check every scout on their skills when the ratio is usually 1:14. This may affect instruction if one needs more attention, but there are solutions. 

Anyway, the lack of supplies due to camp funding is also a big issue. Sometimes we didn’t have enough compasses for each scout, or the rope we had wasn’t in the best shape. We make it work though, we didn’t let it affect the scout’s skills.

Edited by ItsBrian

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For youth: 

  • Adults getting involved and taking over the training rather than let the youth do it
  • Training is to academic in nature, i.e. indoor classroom rather than outdoors and hands on (usually because of the issue above)

For Adults

  • Adults are not very interested in getting training
  • Too few adequately trained trainers
  • Training gets shortened more every year, so some elements are dropped from training and others are just shortened to the extreme
  • Training is to academic in nature, i.e. indoor classroom rather than outdoors and hands on (once again see the issues above)
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For adults:

1. I find the current trainings too basic.  That coupled with the lack of decent continuing education has resulted in too much "learning on the job"

2. The expectation to get trained is too weak in the BSA.  This has resulted in generally poor training percentages.

3. With the advent of online training, face to face training is dwindling.  District and council training teams are not prepared for how to leverage this to improve leader training.

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My biggest challenge is instilling the big picture view that training is valuable.  Poor training content and poor training delivery certainly contribute to that - people find (either first hand or second hand) that a session was a waste of time and they resist future sessions.  We do our best to prevent poor delivery, but are mostly stuck with the content National provides.

Another big hurdle I see is the same as we all identify with the youth - they perceive themselves as being too busy.  When this excuse comes up (for adults or youth) I point out that "too busy" is just a less-direct way to say "that is not important enough for me to give up something else".  

I think location enables the "too busy" excuse - people dont want to travel very far to attend (and we are only 90 minutes from one side of the council to the other).  

I agree that the expectation to get trained is too low.   

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Kids:  As the Scoutskills pavilion leader at CSDC, My observation is that many kids of the age 6,  7, 8,  9 have very little dexterity. They have problems with over/under, left/right,  transposing,  copying a sample.  Coiling a rope. Holding a compass flat.  A paper map ?    

I tend to see this as a lack of play with blocks,  small toys, big toys.  I see parents giving their kids iPads, tablets, even schmart phones to "play with" . The young kids often are not encouraged to manipulate their world PHYSICALLY.   I often ended up standing behind the Cub and holding their hands "just so" , teaching my Scout assistants to do the same, "don't be shy"...   The Den Walkers sometimes would compliment me on my willingness to "get personal" with the Cubs, as if they were reticent to do so. Please note, we were in a very public venue, out in the open, surrounded by many people.  Youth Protection concerns?  Not to me.  Cub permission to DO stuff?  That was my concern.  And I have noticed the same  problems with older Scouts, an inability to manipulate, as if (1) they never had the chance to practice such , and (2) seemingly  have the idea they don't have PERMISSION to DO stuff.   

Adults:   When I help with SMS and IOLS, I am impressed with the need to get the adult Scouters  to HAVE FUN in being Scouters.    

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for youth

not enough practice time at skills,

spending 1 meeting on a skill then waiting months, or year for next step is way too long between skill sets,

too many variances in kids, skill set can be introduced as a group, but needs to be worked on continuously on a more personal level,

for the adults,

interest, I don't mind lack of knowledge, we are all learning, I do mind lack of interest in the subject at hand,

many parents see scouts as just another after school activity, just more arts and crafts projects to do.

love for the outdoors and outdoors skill sets starts at home.

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I see the biggest problem is skills instruction is done as a separate activity from the out door program instead of the program driving the instruction. For example, instead of a classroom setting and "let's learn to tie a taut-line hitch", this can (and should) be done every time a tent or tarp is erected on a campout, or troop/patrol meeting.  The guyline isn't long enough? Don't run back to the trailer and cut a new longer piece, attach a smaller section using a square knot (or sheet bend if different diameter cord).

The point being, instruction happens as part of doing scouting as much as possible not as a separate activity all of the time. 

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The biggest problem for adult training is how the focus is on the adults being trained to be the leader, and not how to train the adults to mentor the scouts to lead. For example at SM Specifics, the adult is trained in how to set up an annual program calendar. Instead, it should be how the adults can mentor the scouts to set up the annual program calendar. Seems subtle or semantic, but it isn't. 

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For kids? Their direct-contact adults are not held to the same level of skill mastery as the youth. Ideally, if someone asked me how to find an SM/ASM/Advisor who knows his/her stuff, I could say, "Ignore that trained patch. Look for the one with the first-class-rank oval on his left pocket."

For adults? They are not held to the same level of skill mastery as the youth. A weekend of IOLS for a trained patch? Give me a break. What scout of yours do you know get any rank patch just for toddling along on a camp out? My SM was rightly embarrassed and stomped off when I tossed him a line and said, "Tie it off around that trunk, a timber hitch will do." He knows how to tie a timber hitch now.

Want to solve your training problem?

  • Ditch IOLS and "Trained".
  • Have an SPL or JASM or crew officer (if you're a new troop, it may be a seasoned SPL/JASM from another troop) sign off on each wannabe direct-contact leader's rank requirement.
  • Let skilled leaders sew on their ovals, maybe with a service star sewn on it to say they tested/retested as an adult.

The problem with modern skills instruction is the presumption that there's this thing called "adult leader" from which skills emanate to this thing called "youth." That's not how the real world works. Anybody, youth or adult, can let skills lapse. Anybody, youth or adult, can help somebody else get those skills back. It just takes a little humility in recognizing who might need to get that skill from whom.

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17 minutes ago, qwazse said:

For kids? Their direct-contact adults are not held to the same level of skill mastery as the youth. Ideally, if someone asked me how to find an SM/ASM/Advisor who knows his/her stuff, I could say, "Ignore that trained patch. Look for the one with the first-class-rank oval on his left pocket."

For adults? They are not held to the same level of skill mastery as the youth. A weekend of IOLS for a trained patch? Give me a break. What scout of yours do you know get any rank patch just for toddling along on a camp out? My SM was rightly embarrassed and stomped off when I tossed him a line and said, "Tie it off around that trunk, a timber hitch will do." He knows how to tie a timber hitch now.

Want to solve your training problem?

  • Ditch IOLS and "Trained".
  • Have an SPL or JASM or crew officer (if you're a new troop, it may be a seasoned SPL/JASM from another troop) sign off on each wannabe direct-contact leader's rank requirement.
  • Let skilled leaders sew on their ovals, maybe with a service star sewn on it to say they tested/retested as an adult.

The problem with modern skills instruction is the presumption that there's this thing called "adult leader" from which skills emanate to this thing called "youth." That's not how the real world works. Anybody, youth or adult, can let skills lapse. Anybody, youth or adult, can help somebody else get those skills back. It just takes a little humility in recognizing who might need to get that skill from whom.

If I recall correctly Australia has a more elaborate development process for adults.  I don't know the details or if it matches this.

But, I would fully welcome a process in which adults could develop skills mastery.  And as some business guy said once "measure what matters."  In the BSA we measure through recognition.  So, I'd be all for some system where leaders could work through the rank process too.  Would be interesting if we had a rule that to be a Scoutmaster you had to have completed First Class.

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I couldn't answer the question because the dynamics of experienced adults has been changing a lot since 1990. It changed so much so that National started all over with training in the year 2000. But with the recent membership policy changes, the dynamics are going to accelerate even more. For a lot of reasons, the program is changing enough that the present user manuals and handbooks are inadequate. Training has always assumed the scouts and adults have some knowledge of the subject. Well that assumption has to be thrown out. The vast vast majority of adults coming in don't have a clue of expectations or skills.

But who can read the future enough to plan for it. Here is what I can say with a great deal of confidence, the BSA needs to cycle out the old scouters brought up in the traditional program and replace them with brand new adults starting over. The traditional program is nonfunctional in this culture and environment. I used to guide units with the same advice when they wanted to change their program. They needed to start with new scouts. It will take a few years, but the bases for the new program will rise out of the confusion and find it's way.

Other than political correctness and Eagles for everyone, I honestly don't know what this generation of parents want out of a youth outdoors scouting program.  Character? Maturity? Values? My teacher son even says parents of his students struggle with expectations. Scouting is going to have to re -identify itself.

Barry

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1 minute ago, ParkMan said:

If I recall correctly Australia has a more elaborate development process for adults.  I don't know the details or if it matches this.

But, I would fully welcome a process in which adults could develop skills mastery.  And as some business guy said once "measure what matters."  In the BSA we measure through recognition.  So, I'd be all for some system where leaders could work through the rank process too.  Would be interesting if we had a rule that to be a Scoutmaster you had to have completed First Class.

Hmmm, maybe I should draw some espresso for Aussie leaders at WSJ and find out  their regimen.

Not sure I'd require it. But JTE could be average of ASM/SM's Rank*100 - years since tested.

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1 hour ago, qwazse said:

For kids? Their direct-contact adults are not held to the same level of skill mastery as the youth. Ideally, if someone asked me how to find an SM/ASM/Advisor who knows his/her stuff, I could say, "Ignore that trained patch. Look for the one with the first-class-rank oval on his left pocket."

For adults? They are not held to the same level of skill mastery as the youth. A weekend of IOLS for a trained patch? Give me a break. What scout of yours do you know get any rank patch just for toddling along on a camp out? My SM was rightly embarrassed and stomped off when I tossed him a line and said, "Tie it off around that trunk, a timber hitch will do." He knows how to tie a timber hitch now.

Want to solve your training problem?

  • Ditch IOLS and "Trained".
  • Have an SPL or JASM or crew officer (if you're a new troop, it may be a seasoned SPL/JASM from another troop) sign off on each wannabe direct-contact leader's rank requirement.
  • Let skilled leaders sew on their ovals, maybe with a service star sewn on it to say they tested/retested as an adult.

The problem with modern skills instruction is the presumption that there's this thing called "adult leader" from which skills emanate to this thing called "youth." That's not how the real world works. Anybody, youth or adult, can let skills lapse. Anybody, youth or adult, can help somebody else get those skills back. It just takes a little humility in recognizing who might need to get that skill from whom.

disagree with the skills mastery aspect for leaders,

first what exactly is mastery,

to me mastery of a skill set takes many years, decades of practice,

a good leader can learn and lead, without being a master of such task, 

if we relied on those who mastered a task, there would be a very limited group of people to turn to for guidance.

to me a master of a skill set is one that lives by the skill set on a daily basis

not a weekend recreational warrior as most of us are.

I have spent decades in the woods, +10 years as almost a minimalist,

wouldn't consider myself a master of any skill set,  

experienced yes, master? heck no.

yet 4 years in scouts I am learning the scout ways which is different, much different than my solo experiences in the woods

 

 

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@Terasec I agree about the difference between solo woodsman and scoutmaster. I started out a scout, turned minimalist, then family camper,  then became an ASM/Advisor, there was a good bit to unlearn, a bit to teach others, and a steady pace of re-learning. It's a growing process.

But I'm not putting mastery on the level of sensei. My criteria: barring disabilities, can a scouter do everything that we've ask of a first class scout? If he or she can't or hasn't even tried, then he or she needs to "walk that mile" with his or her scouts. The scouts see the leader trying, and it inspires trust and admiration. That process builds leadership.

Then, when a scouter goes to roundtable or a leader's campout, we all can focus on the things that sharpen us as leaders, rather than kill a half hour watching a district scouter not start a fire.

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