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RememberSchiff

...Still Relevant and Worthwhile...?

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Psychology Today Nov 1, 2019:

I've had a ritual with my son for a number of years now. It started when he went off to college, 3,000 miles away from home. Whenever he was going to parties or out with friends or on a date, I would simply text him an eagle emoji to remind him that he is an Eagle Scout and that he should always behave like one. He’d always reply with the response, “Always!” The character education and life skills taught in scouting are invaluable and perhaps needed now more than ever in our very challenged society.

Good article:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/do-the-right-thing/201911/are-the-boy-scouts-still-relevant-and-worthwhile-today

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Another well-considered article about the importance of character building for future "elites" (leaders)...the importance of aṣabiyyah

The American Interest : How Do America's Elites Stack Up?  by Seth D. Kaplan. lecturer at John Hopkins University

...

"As a start, the (educational) institutions that select and groom elites need to prepare them for stewardship, as Weber argued. The overemphasis on merit and achievement (and wealth) has reduced the importance of character and virtue among elites, undermining the values and norms that once predominated across society, with a clear impact on everything from the political arena to the financial markets to the dating scene. This requires transforming how young adults are trained and evaluated. Schools should bolster civic education and character-building programs (for example, the Boy Scouts, at least in its original form), and evaluate students on moral behavior as well as through test scores.

Universities and graduate schools should prioritize personal character in applicants. Essay questions today probe for volunteerism and a commitment to helping society, but schools interpret these as another form of achievement. Curriculum should encourage cooperating with stakeholders, responding to the public good, and being invested in a particular place instead of pursuing individual ambition alone. For example, MBA students are often taught that profit-making is the primary—or only—objective of a business in the United States; in other countries (such as Germany, Japan), education, culture, and government policy make the needs of employees, the location of operation, and the broader society just as important. (American politicians who bully companies, such as President Trump, have a point, even if their method is crude and comes late in the game.) Student and business leaders need a renewed focus on the moral sentiments—what we owe others—that Adam Smith saw as the essential underpinning to capitalism.

How do we better understand our duties to others? A national service program would give elites experiential knowledge and greater connectivity with other Americans. Higher incentives for living, working, and opening social capital building organizations in less well-off neighborhoods might encourage more people not just to signal their concern but actually to make a personal sacrifice for the benefit of the country. Encouraging elite undergraduate and graduate schools to instill a code of conduct and to mandate or at least strongly encourage service in an impoverished area, similar to Teach for America, would help change values. Instead of just promoting semesters abroad, they could also promote semesters of service at home. Tuition could even be reduced or forgiven for commitments to serve in a rural or inner urban city job for a minimum of five years."

...

"The problem is how the culture currently frames this (social) contribution (by elites) . What is valued is not what is needed."

https://www.the-american-interest.com/2019/10/30/how-do-americas-elites-stack-up/

Edited by RememberSchiff
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9 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

(for example, the Boy Scouts, at least in its original form)

I had to look this up. I wasn't sure it was in the original paper. It was the same except for the bold font.

Anyway, this reminds me of a discussion I had with a group of people that are going to Rwanda where my wife and I sponsor a kid to go to school. They were talking about different kinds of poverty. The Africans have a material poverty. Many advance Western countries have a community poverty. This paper spells it out.

Something else we talked about was the best way to help the people in Africa. Surprise, surprise, a lot of ideas were similar to developing leadership in a scout troop. Don't tell them what they need. Help them find out what they need. Encourage them to solve their problems on their own, and don't jump in to save the day. One thing they did focus on a lot more than we talk about, was developing a relationship with the people you want to help. In fact that's the only thing we're going to do while there. Play with kids. Talk to parents. Enjoy their music. Letting them know they're not alone while solving their problems.

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Yes I bolded the author's content. Interesting how recent forum topics are calling for a return to focusing on the outdoors, character building, community service, leadership ...

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We have to separate the concept of "relevance" from the concept of being "worthwhile."  Character education and skills training for youth today are certainly important -- worthwhile -- for the future, whether 5 or 10 or 30 years from now.  But relevance is defined as related to or connected to the matter at hand.  The matter at hand is the condition of youth and society today, now.  To be relevant, Scouting has to be seen as a program that benefits participants almost immediately upon joining; those benefits to youth must be observable and understandable to the public; the program must be perceived as understanding and being engaged in today's world (not looking back to the past); and the program must not be perceived as being for a narrow or select audience or as having views or practices considered exclusive or offensive.   

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23 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

We have to separate the concept of "relevance" from the concept of being "worthwhile."  Character education and skills training for youth today are certainly important -- worthwhile -- for the future, whether 5 or 10 or 30 years from now.  But relevance is defined as related to or connected to the matter at hand.  The matter at hand is the condition of youth and society today, now.  To be relevant, Scouting has to be seen as a program that benefits participants almost immediately upon joining; those benefits to youth must be observable and understandable to the public; the program must be perceived as understanding and being engaged in today's world (not looking back to the past); and the program must not be perceived as being for a narrow or select audience or as having views or practices considered exclusive or offensive.   

To use the old phrase: "A game with a purpose"

  • The purpose needs to be worthwhile
  • The game needs to be relevant.
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I think the game needs to be fun as well. The mindset of too many parents is that there's a trade-off between fun and purpose. It starts working when the two happen simultaneously. 

Maybe this is why it's so difficult to come up with a message that parents respond to. Who needs kids that know how to have fun in the outdoors? How will that possibly help them get a job? Which, BTW, is the only reason for extra curricular activities. Honor? Community? That won't pay the bills. That's what we're up against.

Sorry to sound cynical but it's been a bad week for scouting for me. 

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50 minutes ago, MattR said:

I think the game needs to be fun as well. The mindset of too many parents is that there's a trade-off between fun and purpose. It starts working when the two happen simultaneously. 

Maybe this is why it's so difficult to come up with a message that parents respond to. Who needs kids that know how to have fun in the outdoors? How will that possibly help them get a job? Which, BTW, is the only reason for extra curricular activities. Honor? Community? That won't pay the bills. That's what we're up against.

Sorry to sound cynical but it's been a bad week for scouting for me. 

I think that may be a regional issue.  Around here, most of our Scouts start - either at Cub Scouts or at Scouts BSA because of an interest in what we do.  Sure, along the way many parents think - "hey, my son (now daughter too) is doing this, it would be good for college/job is they also earned Eagle."  But I know of very few, if any, who joined for college or future employment reasons.

But, I do agree on your core point.  The game needs to be fun.  If the game isn't fun, then the Scouts won't stick around to absorb the purpose.

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