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For a Scout who has had a particular scout skill based requirement signed-off but I don't feel he doesn't have a real mastery of that skill, there is a real simple solution that I use - I make him an instructor of that skill and have him teach it to less experienced Scouts.


Yah, I hear this one a lot in talkin' to some scouters. I'm curious what others think about it.


Personally, I discourage people from using that approach. It just doesn't make any sense to me.


First, I think it does a real disservice to the scouts who are tryin' to learn. Why wouldn't yeh give them your best instructor, rather than a fellow who doesn't know what he's doing? Would you want your son being taught how to swim by a boy who couldn't swim himself? Would yeh take CPR from someone who not only wasn't certified as an instructor, but didn't have mastery of da basic technique? If a lad can't reliably explain safety for lighting a stove, do yeh want him teaching others? Seems like it would only lead to more problems.


We see this with adult trainers a lot, eh? When they don't have mastery of the material themselves and are pushed into a training position as a warm body, they tend to make stuff up, or pass along their own misunderstanding. That's where a lot of scouting urban legends come from.


I also don't see it as a particularly nice thing to do to a boy, eh? If he doesn't understand himself, putting him up in front of others is only going to be embarrassing for the lad. Why would yeh want to embarrass the scout?


Even when a lad knows his stuff, he also has to learn how to teach (whether it's EDGE or somethin' more in depth). I know da first time I teach something I don't do a great job, usually. Not because I don't know the stuff but because I don't yet know what da learners will have difficulty with or how long it will take (I always seem to run over!). Teaching means yeh have to know something very well, so that you can adjust on the fly to the difficulties a student might be having.


I think that's why we have positions for older scouts like TG and Instructor, eh? It's a privilege to teach, that comes when you have mastered the skill and have been through TLT/NYLT and developed da basic skills of teaching. Not something you assign a scout whose skills are weak as a type of punishment.


MNSHO, anyways. What do the rest of yeh think?



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I have seen this go well & poorly.. Never if you shove him in front of the group without time to prep.. But if you tell him a week or month before and IF.. IF.. he takes the responsibility seriously enough to learn the skill before getting in front of the group, it can work.. Sometimes though they forget the assignment, or don't take it seriously, then it is just as bad as calling them up on the spot.


But Beavah.. Funny you should mention the following:

If a lad can't reliably explain safety for lighting a stove, do yeh want him teaching others?


Brings to mind a scary example of that, I was visiting a troop, having brought my son for meeting with his MB counsilor for physical fitness. They met before the troop meeting, but we stayed after it.. Great just observing other troops for ideas.. Well the troop as a whole was good, but there was one thing I observed that scared me to death. One boy who obviously did not know what he was doing, was trying to teach starting a single burner backpacking stove.. I think it was old style & white gas.. The putting in of the gas was scary, then the stove wouldn't start so he put it on his lap and tried to start it.. Shook it a bit and tried to light it, and the burner either pointed toward him or someone else as he tried to light it.


I was too shy to step in, but went for some other adult who was a member of the unit to halt the process.

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I think the idea is that when you push someone into a teaching position, the fear of making a fool of themselves in front of the group forces them to learn the material in order to teach it. Given the relatively high percentage of Scout-age boys who not only enjoy making fools of themselves in front of a group, but actively seek out such opportunities, I'll agree with you this is a high-risk technique.


I have noticed the kids who do put the time into learning and preparing the material are the ones you want to tap as troop guides and instructors.

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As an ASM and one of our council trainers I agree with Beaveh it's a probably not a good idea for either the Scout or "warm body" instructor.


But it does have some merit... if you feed the Scout small bits at a time (it always comes down to food with me). Here's what I do in our Troop and the council classes I staff.


A Scout getting some skill newly signed off will get buddied up with a more experienced Scout to cover/go-over/work-on that skill/task for the next Scout(s) next time. This works really well in a Troop of mixed ages and experience levels. Someone is always seeing how to cover some task working with someone with more experience. This will benefit both the experienced Scout by giving him some assistance (and breathing room) and the new Scout by working with someone probably closer to his age under the direct supervision of the experienced Scout.


I do this on council courses when I try to get new people on staff. It's easier integrating new Scouters instead of throwing them to the "wolves" (attendees) 1st time out.


It works, as I have completely turned over the staff for IOWLS and BALOO courses instead of leaning on the same Scouters all the time. Same thing happens in the Troop on our Webelos/Troop spring outing. Several of the new Scouts will be helping more experienced Scouts the next spring cover the same stuff.(This message has been edited by dg98adams)

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I've seen it done only after he knows the skill and can do it completley on his own, so the Scout should have already learned the skill. Mostly I've seen it used to keep the scout proficient with the skill after sign off.

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I have often heard the medical model, see one, do one, teach one, as the road to sucess. I alwaya wondered how that worked with Heart Transplants


Nothing will reinforce a skill or knowledge as teaching it, but you DO (emphasis) have to have the skill or knowledge in the first place

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Not sure how what I stated originally got construed to "warm body."


I assume that if a Scout has a skill requirement "signed off" he already has at least a rudimentary proficiency. Becoming proficient is just like the way to Carnigie Hall - practice, practice practice.

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I think it's very common for adults or Scouts to teach skills they haven't mastered perfectly themselves. It's very common for such teachers to go back and review and practice a skill before acting as an instructor.


The idea that every Scout who gets signed off on a requirement is going to have learned that skill perfectly and continue to be the master of it indefinitely is a pipe dream.


I learned knots as part of a Seattle Mountaineers climbing course, and that was true there as well. That's also true at the adult leader skills training for Webelos and Scoutmasters.


You get an introduction to a skill, but you are only going to master it by using and practicing the skill over time.


That's not an excuse for being inadequeatly prepared when you are teaching --- it means you need to prepare in advance as necessary to be the teacher.

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Bringing up a dead thread ... Why don't you just teach your Scout to teach? Just knowing a skill doesn't make one a teacher.

You've all heard it before, and skeptics call it too simple, but I'd give EDGE a try. It's simple so we can teach our Scouts how to teach.

Try it.



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If a scout doesn't know it well enough to teach it to another scout, he probably doesn't know it well enough to pass the requirement. Thus I stick to my original premise, the boy should know the requirement well enough to teach it. It doesn't mean he has to actually teach it, but should know it well enough if the case should ever arise.


Too often we have FC scouts running around not teaching the younger boys, not because they don't know how to teach, but because they got a check mark in their handbook and still can't do the skill.


As far as teaching goes, my boys have all been taught a simple formula for teaching that I use every time I wish to teach the boys something.


Go up in front, face the group.

Introduce yourself.

Tell the group what you're going to be teaching and why it's important to know.

Demonstrate it.

Have them practice and demonstrate it.

Retell them what you taught them.

Question and answer opportunity.

Thank them for their attentiveness.

Sit down.


After 3 years with the boys, I still introduce myself at the beginning of every presentation and go through the steps.


The only time a boy gets embarrassed with this process is when he's supposed to know the material and doesn't. Boy Scouts who take the Motto to heart don't have that problem.


Your mileage may vary,



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The idea that every Scout who gets signed off on a requirement is going to have learned that skill perfectly and continue to be the master of it indefinitely is a pipe dream. I learned knots as part of a Seattle Mountaineers climbing course, and that was true there as well.


Yah, SeattleP, I'm not sure I understand this, eh? Why do yeh think it's a pipe dream?


If a boy has learned how to swim, so that he can swim 100 yards in a strong manner, with resting and floating and confidence, do yeh really think he's not going to be able to swim next summer? Maybe if he never swims again for 30 years and suffers a stroke, but not in da timeframes we're talkin' about for scouting advancement.


Those Seattle Mountaineer fellows I bet were good teachers, eh? And I bet if yeh ran into any of 'em this afternoon, they'd still be able to tie their knots. ;)



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Interesting theory Beavah, one I put to the test. It failed.



The Seattle Mountaineers has a Basic climbing course and an Intermediate climbing course, both taught entirely by volunteers.


Basic course graduates who choose to continue on to the intermediate climbing course do much of the practical teaching of the Basic course, such as teach knots, doing equipment inspections and such.


I took the Basic Course and was then one of the teachers in the Basic course as an Intermediate student.


The knot recommended for tieing in to a rope in the "bowline on a coil" which I might describe as a somewhat specialized climber's knot:





After reading your post I got out a rope to see if I could tie that knot after a third of a century. I couldn't --- not until I had five minutes of review to remind me of the details of how to do it.



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LOL. Yah, a third of a century is a long time, eh? I just tied a bowline on a coil after maybe 8 years without a problem. Haven't been fly fishing in even longer, and just did a blood knot fine. For that matter, I haven't done long division since I was a school boy and I just tried it out again. No problem.


But you're right, eventually for us old folks enough brain cells die as our brains shrink with age that we lose skills, reaction time, and all da rest. My 20 year old self could pound my current self in tennis.


I don't think any of that applies to scout aged lads, though. Their brains are still grownin', not shrinkin'. When they earn snow sports MB one winter, they can strap on da snowboard the following winter wnd do just fine... often even better than they did the previous year.



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Clearly, the real problem is when a youth has a requirement signed off that is not mastered. However in our politically correct society which is damaging our youth while claiming to protect them, that is not likely to be accomplished. The idea of a youth who has not mastered a skill becoming a teacher has to be applied individually. Consider a responsible youth who knows how to do a skill but needs more practice to really master it. Then asking the youth to teach the skill should lead to mastery. If the youth really does not know the skill, then asking them to teach it by themselves is folly.


There is a middle ground that I have been able to employ with some success. Have an adult or an older scout (which ever, they must have true mastery of the skill) ask the scout who has been passed but has no mastery to assist. That way, the youth doesn't feel that they are having to redo the skill but with close supervision, that will in essence be what happens. Even then, they must have a least some competence.




"See one, Do one, Teach one" saying was one that I heard many times but seldom if ever applied in that manner. The idea that after seeing a procedure once that you would have to advance that quickly, does tend to improve one's concentration. As you might think, the simpler the procedure, the more applicable the saying. Such as doing a radial artery blood gas. Also, the teach one is always to be done with a more experienced person observing the teaching. The do one is always observed (by requirement). The more complex the procedure, the more 'seeing' before ever doing the procedure. I have never been asked to perform a procedure that I did not have sufficient instruction. The idea is still that seeing, doing, and teaching something is the best method to assure mastery and long term retention.

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