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BSA training: Some thoughts from an outsider

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I kinda agree with Beavah and with many things that Kudu is passionate about. I have taken both the old and current versions of WoodBadge and my opinion of each is based as much on the quality of the presenters as it is the material being presented. I do not believe that WB is the reason for the ,"downfall of scouting", as Kudu suggests, but it has IMO put a different focus on the direction scouting is taking. Personally I think Mazzuca, and National are really out of touch with what scouting is truly about, what makes it unique and why it is vital that we retain that essence and uniqueness if we want scouting to remain truly scouting as envisioned by B-P, Seton, Beard, Hillcourt, etc.

 

It is always easier to say times are changing and so must scouting in order to remain relevant to the youth of today. Change just for the sake of change can many times have disasterous results, as we saw with scouting in the 70's.

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"Change just for the sake of change can many times have disasterous results, as we saw with scouting in the 70's."

 

Correction - are seeing. The official story is that the "Improved Scouting Program" was a short-lived program experiment. In truth it has been, and continues to be, a slow-motion train wreck. Keep in mind that it took 17 years to go back to the pre-1972 advancement requirements, and even longer to erase the changes made to Wood Badge at about the same time. The problem with the latter is that when they got around to changing Wood Badge, they replaced it with something even less satisfying.

 

Sometimes Kudu's acidity gets to me, but I get where he's coming from. The point of Scouting has traditionally been to take boys out of civilization and have them learn citizenship and values away from the distractions of modern society. This was the formula up until 1972, when the program was "improved" and "modernized" to make it more "relevant." Feh!(This message has been edited by sherminator505)

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The purpose of passive-aggressive personal attacks is to get readers off the hook.

 

Simply put:

 

Why do we spend the only 25 minutes of adult training devoted to the Patrol Method not on the Patrol Method but on EDGE? How can anyone pretend to discuss Boy Scout Training without accounting for the fact that we completely exclude from the Patrol Method presentation of SM Specific Training, ANY mention of a Patrol Leader and ANY description of a working Patrol?

 

A Bit like Merlyn but Worse,

 

Kudu

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From the Troop level perspective ...

 

1. At what point does the level of knowledge required of an SM, as a practical matter, cross the line from what we can expect reasonably of a volunteer (whom we must presume, for the purposes of any training, comes to us totally unskilled) to what is basically a professional position?

 

It is right in the training:

 

What a Scoutmaster Must Know

1) Boys are the leaders

2) The Patrol Method

3) The skills to deliver the Scouting promise

4) The resources: training, literature, etc.

 

The skills are really minimal. For God's sake, the BSA would like a 10 - 11 year old to earn 1st Class in the first year so what we are asking from a "scout skills" perspective is only what we are asking of a 12 year old boy. I think that's not too high of a bar for most adults.

 

Yes, EDGE "took the place" in the presentation material of some of the Patrol Method charts but the PLC is still presented as is the resources - like The Scoutmaster Handbook - which give good descriptions of the patrol method.

 

 

2. Training: If it is to be recalled, it needs to be practiced. Training should, if you don't do "drills" like the ARC does, be recurring - meaning your "camping cert", for example, would only last 1 or 2 years before you train again.

 

I think folks put way too much emphasis on some of the training. Most of the training is really just an introductory sort of first aid, cooking, camping, etc. What is really beneficial, IMHO, is that the SM and SAs know the BSA program. It's not a camping club.

 

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For God's sake, the BSA would like a 10 - 11 year old to earn 1st Class in the first year so what we are asking from a "scout skills" perspective is only what we are asking of a 12 year old boy. I think that's not too high of a bar for most adults.

 

We ask a boy to do that after a year of 40+ meetings, 11 weekend outings, and a week long summer camp. That's a total of about 70 training days. Of course, the lads don't come on everything, which is why most troops find that it takes longer than a year for the boys to earn First Class. Even longer if da troop follows da BSA expectation of the lad being really proficient in da skills.

 

So how much better learners do we think da adults are? Twice as good as the boys? That means they'd need a two week training course plus 20 evening meetings. Me personally, I think the youth are better learners than the adults most of da time. Ever try to teach one of us old farts something new? :) So that means we'd need a month-long Outward Bound course plus several years worth of round table. Just to make First Class at the not-really-proficient level.

 

Of course a First Class scout is just beginnin' to take on leadership, eh? His personal campin' skills should be solid, but he's really not quite ready to be completely trusted with the health and welfare of his fellow scouts. But da SM we do expect to be responsible for the health and welfare of da kids. How much more training would that require, do yeh think? Hopefully at least da equivalent of Camping and First Aid MB or WFA, eh? Then it'd be nice to have some trainin' in teaching and workin' with kids. And judgin' by da fact it always seems to come up here, legal issues. ;)

 

What do you figure? To be an Eagle Scout, we expect a year and 4 months of genuine leadership/responsibility experience in scouting past First Class. Do we think our expectation of da key adult(s) in a troop should be less than that? How much less?

 

When yeh add it all up, it's a lot of trainin' to truly have the skills to deliver the Scouting promise.

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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acco40 writes:

 

Yes, EDGE "took the place" in the presentation material of some of the Patrol Method charts but the PLC is still presented...

 

That is why we call Leadership Skills the "Troop Method."

 

Fake Leadership always defines the Patrol Leader and his Patrol within the context of the whole Troop: Sitting in a PLC meeting or cooking and cleaning under adult EDGE supervision, rather than organizing their own Patrol Adventures.

 

acco40 writes:

 

It's not a camping club.

 

Yes it is.

 

The Act of Congress which favors our corporation with a monopoly on Scouting clearly defines the BSA as a "camping club."

 

Despite the contempt with which leadership advocates hold it, our Congressional Charter lists Scoutcraft as a Purpose of Scouting, not a mere method. "Leadership Skills" are not even mentioned:

 

Sec. 30902. Purposes

 

The purposes of the corporation are to promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916.

 

Yours at 300 feet,

 

Kudu

http://www.kudu.net/

 

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""Fake Leadership always defines the Patrol Leader and his Patrol within the context of the whole Troop: Sitting in a PLC meeting or cooking and cleaning under adult EDGE supervision, rather than organizing their own Patrol Adventures."

 

EDGE is an educational model, it is not a supervisory model, EDGE cannot be used to supervise anything

 

A Patrol Leader can certainly use the EDGE model to teach his patrol skills they will need for their Patrol Outing however(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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Kudu writes:

 

acco40 writes:

It's not a camping club.

Yes it is.

I won't try to put words in acco's mouth, but my guess would be that he is referring to "camping clubs" as groups of RV-owning adults whose club activies include organized trips to various KOA-type campgrounds. I suspect he was equating that with families who view boy scout campouts as an opportunity for the whole family to go camping and subvert the patrol method. I suspect the two of you are placing entirely different meanings on this phrase.

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What I meant about the statement that the BSA is "not a camping club" is that we all don't just get together with other boys and adults to camp like we do as families. There is a method to the madness with which the BSA would like for us to camp - utilize patrols for instance. As Kudu states, there is a definitive purpose - self preparedness, patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues - which the BSA articulates as the aims - character and moral growth, citizenship and personal fitness (physical, mental and emotional). The vehicle to which this is accomplished are the methods - which include patrols and the outdoors. Many parents (and it seems some Scouters) simply don't get this.

 

Fake Leadership always defines the Patrol Leader and his Patrol within the context of the whole Troop: Sitting in a PLC meeting or cooking and cleaning under adult EDGE supervision, rather than organizing their own Patrol Adventures.

No training that I've had or administers advocates the above so I have no idea where you feel that "Fake Leadership" is being advocated. Yes, troop Organization is a topic that is taught but patrols come together to form a troop. Troops are not subdivided into patrols - that is what the BSA teaches. EDGE (Explaining, Demonstrating, Guiding and Enabling) is a teaching method, not a leadership method. It is not only taught to adults but to the Scouts as well via NYLT and other training sources. It doesn't advocate "adult supervision" any more or any less than anything else.

 

Kudu, I just don't get why you feel trying to expose boys to basic leadership styles is the antithesis of the outdoor method. They are not mutually exclusive activities.

 

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Kudu states:  "Why do we spend the only 25 minutes of adult training devoted to the Patrol Method not on the Patrol Method but on EDGE? How can anyone pretend to discuss Boy Scout Training without accounting for the fact that we completely exclude from the Patrol Method presentation of SM Specific Training, ANY mention of a Patrol Leader and ANY description of a working Patrol?"

I took SM/ASM specific training and all I can say is whatever SM specific training you took, it was entirely different than what I took.  In my course, I remember a great deal spoken and taught about the Patrol Method and how a properly functioning Troop utilizes the Patrol Method.  We discussed EDGE, but I don't remember it being used in the context of the Patrol Method.

 

 

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Random nitpick: Mods, is there a way to have new post links in email take you directly to the new post, not the first page of the thread?

 

Other than that: Am I the only one thinking we're having separate convos here? Kudu's beating the drum about the evils of the EDGE method and such, and the replies thereto, as one conversation, and the separate conversation about the achievability of becoming trained in necessary skills by an untrained adult. Seems to me it'd be less confusing were the former to be spun off into another thread, but eh.

 

Moving on from that: The more I think about the issue, the more I'm struck by a few points. I'm going to list them and number them to keep them organized.

 

To wit:

 

1. There seems to be little coherence in what BSA training aims to teach adults. Is it trying to teach outdoor skills? Is it a crash course in all things leadership? Is it simply "policies and procedures"?

 

IMHO, the prime failing of BSA training, from what I've learned about it online, is that it isn't clear on what the hell it wants to do. It'd probably be quite good, if only it focused and quit being like a kid with ADD chasing the shiny.

 

2. BSA could indeed teach everything mentioned. But it seems insane to do it all in one course, to try to do leadership *and* outdoor skills.

 

If I were on a committee revising BSA training from the ground up, here's how I'd do it:

 

A. Multiple training tracks. CS training and BS training and Venture training might have common courses, but at some point they lead in different directions.

B. I step back from my previous thoughts of training 'expiring'. I'd only consider that for things that can potentially change rapidly like YP issues (where annual retraining seems like a good thing), or other areas where it's important to have everybody on the exact same page.

C. Skills stuff is not meant to teach advanced stuff - Councils should be encouraged to offer training in advanced topics where it seems wanted, but as a rule, courses should teach the basics. More advanced stuff can be filtered out through less-common advanced training or through roundtables and the like. If you have prior knowledge, you don't need the course - but if you don't know things or its been a while, take the course.

 

How I'd design training:

 

A. Basic training, required for all positions - YP, for example. How BSA works regardless of program. Fundamental stuff that everybody needs to know whether they're working with Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venture people, or whatever. Most of this is "Take once and you're done", except for stuff where regular reviews are essential like YP.

 

B. Program specific training: One track for each program, with the basic stuff as a prereq. These can focus in more and more depth on issues related to that program. I would encourage everybody to at least take the basic program course for each program they're covering, if I were designing it.

 

If training were to have program-specific elements, I'd be split on whether it should need to be retaken; If we mean for Scouting to be as scientifically-based now as it was when Baden-Powell designed the Scout Method 100 years ago, it might help to keep everybody current on what we know about youth issues and youth development - to the point of trying to "unteach" common myths (and, let's be honest, outright lies) held/believed by most non-specialists. (Factor I squirm at thinking about, but bring up as an example of how the science appears to be leaps ahead of common knowledge: Contrary to common belief that it's stable, the age of puberty (in boys as well as girls) is, clinical evidence is beginning to accumulate showing, going *down*. Sooner or later that's going to slam into Cub Scouts with the force of a tsunami, and may require adaptations to account for it. Less controversially, just think of how Scouting could use new advancements in knowledge of child&adolescent psychology to build a better program.) On the other hand, it might be better to have courses taken once, then have people in each track get regular updates somehow.

 

I'd have separate tracks for ACMs/CMs, ASMs/SMs, and their Venturing counterparts, and probably other tracks for those who are on Troop/Pack Committees, and still another track for CORs. Separate capstone courses for each program, focusing specifically on issues relative to that program, giving the Boy Scout capstone the Wood Badge name.

 

C. Advanced training and skills training: Here would go stuff on leadership, advanced outdoor stuff, etc. The more I bat things around in my head, the more I'm of the belief that leadership, in particular, as it relates to Scouting, is something you can only teach the very basics of - the rest is so individual that it can only be learned by the CM/SM being in the arena. Outdoor stuff is a different thing. Every (A)SM needs to know how to camp safely, right? (A)CMs not so much. And after the basics, is every SM going to need to know how to camp in winter (how the heck do you *define* winter, even, in Hawaii or Arizona?) or how to camp in extreme weather?

 

Basic theme of how I'd design training: Scouting adult training needs to make the adults involved knowledgable about kids, or about the skills they're supposed to help the kids learn. How to lead adults? Can be learned in so many other places. How to do advanced camping stuff? Again, without thinking very hard, can likely be learned through other groups. In short, let BSA focus, in training adults, on training them about kids - everything else can best be taught by other organizations, but if BSA is (as National's strategic plan for 2010-2015 seems to aim towards) "an expert on youth", and that's the image they want to project...Then, naturally, it would seem to become incumbent on everybody to make sure that the folks on the pointy end (the adults actually doing stuff at unit level) *are* in fact taught about the latest in what's known about youth.

 

3. A final point: I'm not really sure it helps people to bang the drum and preach about "Parlor Scouting" or worse. To be totally honest, Kudu and others...If I were the ordinary person reading these threads, I'd be insulted, both by the implications of there being Holy Writ or heresy on a subject like this, and by the fact that none of that deals with the reality.

 

Work with what exists, not what you might wish to have, IMHO.

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"The BSA is not a camping club" was the Ken Blanchard Wood Badge slogan from a decade ago with which Leadership Skills advocates defended kicking out the last vestiges of Baden-Powell's Patrol-based Scoutcraft program. It was usually coupled with the BSA's so-called "Mission Statement," but our mission is defined by our Congressional Charter.

 

acco40 writes:

 

The vehicle to which this is accomplished are the methods - which include patrols and the outdoors

 

Scoutcraft is not a mere method. An Act of Congress clearly establishes it as one of the three Purposes of Scouting.

 

Note that our Charter stipulates "the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916." That is significant because just as Scoutmaster Training defines the Patrol Method as EDGE, the new handbook passes EDGE off as "Scoutcraft."

 

OldGreyEagle writes:

 

EDGE is an educational model, it is not a supervisory model, EDGE cannot be used to supervise anything

 

acco40 writes:

 

EDGE (Explaining, Demonstrating, Guiding and Enabling) is a teaching method, not a leadership method. It is not only taught to adults but to the Scouts as well via NYLT...

 

NYLT clearly presents the "Leading EDGE" as a leadership method. It is usually coupled with the so-called "Stages of Team Development"

 

7. Leading EDGE: Describe the 4 leadership approaches included in the Leading Edge (Explaining, Demonstrating, Guiding, Enabling) and apply them to team development

 

8. Teaching EDGE: Describe the 4 steps of the Teaching Edge (Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable) and how to use effective communications skills as a tool for teaching

 

http://www.brownsea-nylt.org/PDF_files/NYLT_for_Scoutmasters.pdf

 

acco40 writes:

 

Kudu, I just don't get why you feel trying to expose boys to basic leadership styles is the antithesis of the outdoor method. They are not mutually exclusive activities.

 

Yes, why is it that with all the thousands and thousands of people who take Wood Badge, no Scoutmaster in the history of the planet has ever raved about how "Leadership Styles" inspired him to teach his Patrol Leaders how to hike and camp without adult EDGE supervision, or even to camp their Patrols Baden-Powell's 300 feet apart.

 

Leadership advocates have relentlessly attacked Scoutcraft from the year "Leadership Development" was invented up to and including 2010. See my post on Friday, 10/1/2010: 2:26:56 PM.

 

Ever wonder why William Hillcourt is not included in the Scouting Heritage Merit Badge? Leadership Development is based on the destruction of Patrol-based Scoutcraft, his life work:

 

Some members were very resistant to the idea of changing the focus of Wood Badge from training leaders in Scoutcraft to leadership skills. Among them was Bill Hillcourt, who had been the first United States Wood Badge Course Director in 1948. Although he had officially retired on August 1, 1965, his opinion was still sought after and respected.

 

Larson later reported, " He fought us all the way... He had a vested interest in what had been and resisted every change. I just told him to settle down, everything was going to be all right."

 

http://www.whitestag.org/history/history.html

 

"Everything is going to be all right" is Wood Badge jargon for "Replacing Scoutcraft with Leadership Skills is worth losing two million Boy Scouts."

 

Yours at 300 feet,

 

Kudu

http://kudu.net

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I checked the National Youth Leadership Training Staff Guide, it says this about Leading EDGE:

 

"The Leading EDGE acronym describes the behavior of a leader as the

team moves through the model. The EDGE acronym is used to describe a

process for skills transfer."

 

"...a process for skills transfer."

 

Sounds like an Educational Model to me

 

I do not think you want to use the NYLT Curricula to make a point that BSA wants to kill the Patrol Method

 

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IMHO, the prime failing of BSA training, from what I've learned about it online, is that it isn't clear on what the hell it wants to do. It'd probably be quite good, if only it focused and quit being like a kid with ADD chasing the shiny.

 

Goin' to have to remember that quote ;)

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