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Penta

BSA training: Some thoughts from an outsider

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I realize that WB21C is not an outdoor skills course. It is what it is. It is an encapsulated course in leadership skills. It is not a true capstone course for Cub Scout leaders, nor is it a capstone course for Boy Scout leaders or Venturing leaders. Yet that is exactly what the BSA is promoting it as, to the detriment of Cub Scout leaders, Boy Scout leaders and Venturing leaders. That is the biggest problem with the current BSA training regime as I see it.

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Am I the only one thinking the whole "What Wood Badge is"/"What modern Scouting is" discussion probably deserves its own thread by this point?:)

 

Actually, on that latter point...

 

I think sometimes that's what we see here but that nobody totally likes to admit.

 

Scouting, in the United States in 2010, is in many ways a different animal from the Scouting of 50 or 75 or 100 years previous. Really, Scouting after the 1960s and Scouting during and before the 1960s seem like very different things. Simply by the fact that Scouting is a more diverse movement in many ways, it's a different animal than from when it was founded in the US a century ago, or during its 1960s heyday.

 

Now, I'm not going to extend beyond that. I don't know enough to say whether what's resulted is good, bad, indifferent, or what.

 

But I get a sneaking feeling like we're never going to resolve these arguments, because I get the feeling they're as much about Scouting as they are about the wider world.

 

Anyhow, it's a new Monday and I'm at school bright and early...Came in at 6:20 AM for an 8 AM class, curse the paratransit schedule.

 

It gives me time to think. Those thoughts will be seen on a new thread.

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Beavah said:

 

"Kids mostly learn by watching and example and trying,..."

 

Beavah, what you describe is the Demonstrate Guide and Enable part of EDGE.

 

First you explain what you are going to do such as

 

Boys, I am gonna teach you how to build a fire

 

Then you talk about the components of a fire, the tinder, Kindling and fuel while showing them examples of each. Its not all lecture, its the instructor and the scouts sitting/standing around a fire circle. They watch and listen while you build a fire, telling them why you start with tinder, then kindling and fuel. You show them once and then invite them to do as you demonstrated, you watch them, coach when needed and then have them do it themselves

 

All interactive, no lecture just you building a fire and then they do the same. Doesnt not sound boring to me

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I've stayed out of this discussion for quite some time in order to sit back and take a look at the whole picture.

 

What I see is: two different emphasis being promoted. One is the instruction of what to do and the other is why one would want to do it in the first place.

 

If I'm out in the woods and cold, do I know what to do? Sure. Start a fire. Sounds simple because it is too simplistic. First of all the assumptions may all be wrong. Maybe just putting a coat on would solve the problem or maybe take a quick walk around to get the blood flowing. Why would you want to start a fire when there are other options out there for solving the "being cold" problem. Unless one knows why one is cold, maybe starting a fire might not be the right solution. Do we teach how or why?

 

One of the qualities of leadership is evaluation and decision making. One cannot make the right decision if they build their evaluation on all the wrong assumptions.

 

A military scout who is out beyond the front lines would probably take into consideration that starting a fire would be a rather stupid decision in his situation.

 

Do we teach (EDGE) how over the initial lessons of why? If we look at the big picture, sometimes the individual solutions to the problem will eliminate many of the options right away and a more profitable solution can be decided on. This is the difference between leadership and management in my book. I can manage the situation with a quick fix, but it may be a poor leadership decision in the long run.

 

I spend a lot of time teaching my boys more than just the skills. They have to know which skill (tool) to use at the appropriate time. Simply knowing one or two skills may not be sufficient.

 

If I'm lost, building a signal fire in the middle of extremely dry area might not be the best choice no matter how effective I am in getting a fire going. This is the difference between managing the situation and making proper leadership decisions. I guess I don't want to be the scout that is found smack dab in the middle of 300,000 acres of burned out forest.

 

When one spends all their time teaching skills and managing actions, one can easily see how important the real issue is: leadership, that process by which skills and management are properly used to effect a best solution to a problem and not just a quick fix solution that manages the situation in the short term.

 

A FC scout should be able to start a fire, but an Eagle should know why.

 

Stosh

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Twocubdad writes:

 

Of all the things you choose to get lathered up about, Kudu, I really don't understand why EDGE is such a problem for you.

 

Because EDGE replaced the Patrol Method.

 

We still use the words "Patrol Method," BUT the term refers to EDGE now.

 

That is why the "Patrol Method" presentation of the SM & ASM Specific Training course NEVER mentions a Patrol Leader, and it NEVER describes a working Patrol.

 

Instead the "Patrol Method' presentation explains how adults can use EDGE to supervise generic groups and generic boy-leaders.

 

The Patrol Method is one of the so-called "Eight Methods of Scouting." The so-called Leadership Development "Method" now gets a week at Wood Badge, but we devote only 25 minutes of adult training to the Patrol Method. All 25 of those minutes are about how EDGE provides an interface betrween the Adult Association Method and the Leadership Development Method!

 

Likewise Leadership Development took Patrol Leader Specific Training away from Patrol Leaders and replaced it with generic Troop Leader Training (TLT).

 

TLT concentrates on EDGE and those Leadership Position Cards from which a "Real" Patrol Leader's primary responsibility has been removed ("Qualify to take my Patrol hiking and camping"), so that Patrol Leaders can pretend to use EDGE in the Troop Method.

 

I explained all of that in great detail previously in this thread. Cognitive Dissonance?

 

Your Username is "Twocubdad." Maybe Cub Scout training is why you do NOT believe that removing the Patrol and the Patrol Leader from the "Patrol Method" is significant?

 

NJCubScouter writes:

 

...the 1970s version of "EDGE" probably was, "Manager of Learning." ... I mean, what's wrong with things like "Setting the Example", "Planning" and "Evaluation" (more of the 11 competencies from the 1970's)? ALL good leaders do those things... Is that really so bad?

 

The first thing White Stag's invention of Leadership Development did was take away Patrol Leader Training (How to qualify to take a Patrol hiking and camping), and replaced it with that generic "11 Competencies" Training.

 

Why not do the same thing to BSA Lifeguards, NJCubScouter?

 

A Lifeguard is a "Manager of Learning" just as much as a Patrol Leader is. He Sets the Example, Evaluates, etc. If "ALL good leaders do those things" then why not take BSA Lifeguard's specialized training away from him, like Whitestag training did to Patrol Leaders?

 

What difference does it make if a Lifeguard's Position Card no longer includes "Qualify to take Boy Scouts swimming"?

 

I explained all of that in great detail previously in this thread. Cognitive Dissonance?

 

Your Username is "NJCubScouter." Maybe Cub Scout training is why you do NOT believe taking "Patrol Leader Training" away from Patrol Leaders and replacing it with "Manager of Learning" lessons is significant?

 

Yours at 300 feet,

 

Kudu

 

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"Cognitive Dissonance"

 

Hey think I know this one, its when you try to blame everything you can on a principle used out of context.

 

Like saying Soccer is boring and give the Infield Fly Rule as an example

 

BTW

 

"Your Username is "Twocubdad." Maybe Cub Scout training is why you do NOT believe that removing the Patrol and the Patrol Leader from the "Patrol Method" is significant?"

 

"Your Username is "NJCubScouter." Maybe Cub Scout training is why you do NOT believe taking "Patrol Leader Training" away from Patrol Leaders and replacing it with "Manager of Learning" lessons is significant?"

 

Is that an example of "Ad Hominem" attacks? I get mighty confused at times

 

 

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Beavah, what you describe is the Demonstrate Guide and Enable part of EDGE.

 

Yah, da problem with these pithy little acronyms is that they're so malleable, eh?

 

So an experienced fellow says "What I do is EDGE", and another less experienced fellow says what he does is EDGE, and they aren't even close to da same.

 

Somebody who is truly experienced can fit what they do into almost any acronym. If I came up with CRAPPO and published it, it would work too. Da things are so malleable that the experienced person goes "gee, well that's just like teachin' kids to build a fire, first you CReate an environment for learning, then you get their Attention, then...".

 

Da problem is, it's really all CRAPPO. :) The experienced person succeeds because he's experienced, not because of da acronym. And the inexperienced person goes, "well, I'll just follow along like it says" and doesn't end up with anything at all like what the experienced person does. All he ends up with is CRAPPO.

 

Like the shy little fellow in da other thread, eh? He's not goin' to succeed with an Explain and Demonstrate thing, but he's great with coaching. So if he's goin' to teach, he's goin' to want to set up a situation where he can coach or work alongside his charges. But we insisted on EDGE, so he thinks he's got to sit da group down and do an explanation and a demonstration.

 

EDGE doesn't take into account da personality, style or skill of the instructor, nor does it account for anything about the learner. When yeh ignore all information about the teacher, the learner, and the environment, then you're really livin' on the EDGE.

 

And it's CRAPPO.

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Well, Like I have been saying, EDGE is a tool. Thats it, a tool. If you don't like it and have alternatives, use them. If you don't like it and have no alternatives, do what serves your youth best.

 

In the end, that's the only thing that counts

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If yeh think it's a tool that works for yeh, that's fine. Like any mental mnemonic, it's a personal thing. I remember learning da classifications of stars OBAFGKM... "Oh, Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me". Yah, that line even worked on Mrs. Beavah one starry night ;).

 

You know me, though, I'm always skeptical of simplistic solutions to somethin' that's complicated. I think it's better to teach kids da real deal. I'd much rather they really learn how to do something than learn someone else's mental mnemonic. That way they can really do the thing, not just talk it. And that way it's theirs for life.

 

B

 

 

 

 

 

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True confession (and hopefully this brings us back to training), we ASMs in the troop and my SM will sign off on any boy who cannot decipher the acronym EDGE but can tell us what he does to get Johnny to start a fire. They pass if they say:

- "Learn Do Teach"

- "I did it. Then he did it."

- "I let him watch the other patrol who's good at lighting fires"

- "We read the handbook togther"

- "I dunno, I just used up your matches till he figured it out"

 

I don't want a boy to know the latest fad in pedagodgy. I want him to know that he has it in him to hand down a skill to someone else.

 

I then apologise to the boy that I can't remember the acronym, but if he keeps doing what he's doing (with fewer of my matches), we'll be fine.

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Re:

"I don't want a boy to know the latest fad in pedagodgy. I want him to know that he has it in him to hand down a skill to someone else. "

 

The purpose for mnemonics like EDGE is to teach the boys a useful way to organize teaching a skill. It's not meant to make it harder, but easier and more effective. It's pretty much the way we all should teach a skill anyway. Tell them how do do it. Show them how to do it. Help them do it. Give them chances to do it.

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I'll inject something from a dispassionate, third-party perspective. If anyone involved in these exchanges is not already familiar with the fact that Kudu feels very strongly about these things, I apologize in advance. However, as I suspect you DO know this, it isn't constructive to make comments about rants, historical or otherwise. Such comments can appear snide and provocative.

On the other hand, just because someone questions something about which we feel passionate, doesn't mean it's an attack on US.

I also realize I'm going to look like the pot calling the kettle late for dinner or something like that. Guilty as charged...but not here, not in this thread.

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Yah, packsaddle, I have Kudu squelched, eh? Cuts down on da noise. But yeh can always tell when he's jumped in on a thread because of how it veers off to one of his "issues." A bit like Merlyn, but worse, actually. Merlyn doesn't use posts to advertise his own website.

 

I like Kudu's ideas and his site is a fine resource. I even agree with him on most things. Not that leadership and outdoor skills are mutually exclusive, they're not. But teaching leadership in a vacuum is silly. What a Patrol Leader needs to do for leadership is very different than what a politician needs to do for leadership is very different than what a general needs to do for leadership is very different from what a CEO needs to do for leadership. Da notion that yeh can just teach "leadership" outside of da context in which it applies is absurd. So it's best for a PL to learn his role in the context of the outdoors, workin' with fellow kids. Not indoors reading Hershey & Blanchard and signing a contract on his job description.

 

That's a problem with WB21C, eh? And a fair criticism. We all recognize that there's a big difference between how adult leaders act in Cubs and in Boy Scouting, so much so that it's often worthwhile to have adults who make da transition take a step back until they can "reprogram." Similarly there's a difference between what a SM does and what an MC does, eh? Leadership in those two roles is fundamentally different. So why do we believe that a single leadership training course is appropriate for all of 'em?

 

The challenge we face, however, is time. Volunteers have limited time, either as trainees or as trainers. And to teach an adult all da outdoor skills and all the working-with-people skills and then develop their leadership ability in that context and then develop their teaching ability in those subjects is an awfully tall order. Well nigh an impossible one. Which was Penta's original point.

 

So we count on adults coming in with some experience, and we count on adults being lifelong learners who go out and find information and learn and try things out on their own. Da BSA training courses at best only give someone some pointers at da beginning. Good leaders take those as a starting point; poor ones take 'em as an ending point. As a starting point, they're really not all that bad, eh? Certainly not da disaster Kudu intimates. As an ending point, though, they are.

 

Beavah

 

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