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Eamonn

"My job is to help boys make ethical decisions, not to make them do want I want them to.

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Some years back Hillary Clinton, in a speech used the term "It takes a whole village to raise a child" At the time Hillary wasn't very popular. I thought what she said was very wise and suited the time and place.

Bob White has posted in another thread:

"My job is to help boys make ethical decisions, not to make them do want I want them to."

He really has hit the nail on the head.

I can't help thinking how wonderful Scouting would be if all the adults used this as a benchmark.

Eamonn.

 

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Sometimes helping Scouts make ethical decisions is making them do what you want. They can be the same thing and are not necessarily exclusive.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Hi,Ed

The Mission statement reads:

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

You say:

Sometimes helping Scouts make ethical decisions is making them do what you want.

We could get into a very long and very useless discussion about the meaning of the word Decision. So let's use the wording in the Mission Statement and go with the word choice.

When we deal with young children and we want them to do something, we jump through a lot of hoops.

"OJ, Please pick up your toys."

"OJ, if you pick your toys up, I'll read you a bedtime story."

"OJ, if you don't pick your toys up I'm not going to read you a bedtime story!"

"OJ, if you don't pick your toys up you can't go to the park tomorrow".

Many of us old people remember when the final threat was "If you don't I'm going to smack you" Which at times was followed through with a crack across the backside. (And they call them the good old days!!)

As children get older we want them to start making good choices on their own, not because we are going to reward them or because there is a threat hanging over their head, we want them to do things that are right because it is the right thing to do.

Later on today OJ is taking his driving test. He is certain that he is going to pass. He has asked if he can drive up to camp on Saturday, but wants to come home Saturday night. I have some concerns about him driving off the mountain at night.

The easy thing to do is for me to say that he can't drive and offer to take him and pick him up. He does what I want and what will make me happy. I could I suppose tell him that he can't go.

I decided that I would put my cards on the table and let him know what my fears and what my concerns are. Of course him being 16, he doesn't always see where I'm coming from. But once I had shared my feelings he decided that he will leave camp before it gets dark. His choice.

Once he gets to camp, if he is anything like his Dad he isn't going to want to leave, but he is going to have to make another choice. I haven't said that I'm going to reward him for leaving on time and there is no threat hanging over him. I think he knows that I am not going to be happy if he stays till dark and then drives off the mountain.

Some choices he makes with little or no input from me. He selected what classes he is going to take next year. He has selected a very heavy load with extra math and science classes. I think that he has taken on too heavy a load, but he wants to be a math teacher and he has picked the college that he wants to attend and he thinks these classes will help him meet his goal.

Sure there are times when his decision and mine go hand in hand, but I don't make him, he has to see things for himself. There are times when there may be only one right way to go, but he needs to work this out for himself.

I think when we make people do anything we take away their choice.

I also question if, once people get older if we can make them do what we want?

My goal for my kid is that he will be a caring, loving person, he will only reach this if he is capable of making good choices not from fear or because he is going to be rewarded, but because he can make good and ethical choices.

When we deal with Scouts, we can make rules that state if you don't wear your uniform you will be sent home. I don't think this teaches anything. How much better for the Lad to choose to wear his uniform because he wants to wear it and because he thinks it's the right thing to do.

Eamonn

 

 

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I think that forcing Scouts to make the decision we believe is right may satisfy the need for immediate gratification that's so popular today, but that may or may not lead to the long term results we're also looking for.

 

I'm trying to figure out the best way to word my thoughts, but let me try an example. If I say to my troop, "you must wear your uniform or you will be sent home", 3 things may happen. One, they'll show up in uniform, two, they'll show up out of uniform to see if I'd really send them home, or three, they just won't show up. One is good, two leads to confrontation, and three is just bad.

 

On the other hand, if I say "we'd really like the troop to attend meetings in uniform", I find it more likely that someone will say "why?". Even if the purpose is to just start a debate, it gives me a chance to explain why we think it's a good idea. They may not agree, but at least I've had a chance to state my case.

 

Yes, I could give that explanation at the time that we say "you must wear your uniform", but my experience is that, in the long run, you're better off letting the Scout make their decision based on a "recommendation(?)" rather than a "mandate".

 

As I read this, I think I'm not stating it very well. Bottom line is, I think a unit is better off doing the work to help the Scout come to the decision you'd like him to come to. That's a lot more work, and sometimes leads to frustration on both sides during the process, but in the long run, I just think it works better and you end up with better Scouts who turn into better thinking adults.

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But if for a month at meetings you had some interesting door prizes and the more uniform pieces a scout wore the more times he got to enter for the prizes, if your Scoutmaster minutes talked about the importance of good grooming, or how a uniform can make a person feel part of a special team, or about the history of scouting and why we should be proud to show we are scouts, if you found some special opportunities in the community which would require that the scouts who participated be in a complete uniform, then after a month you would probably see an improvement in uniforming.(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Pack, I'd stay away from food prizes if you can. The simple worry would be allergies, but the real problem is children equating food with "winning" and "feeling good".

 

jd

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"but the real problem is children equating food with "winning" and "feeling good".

I am sorry I don't see this as a problem.

We humans have always equated food with feeling good.

We have always ate well after the successful hunt or bountiful harvest. Isn't this winning?

One of the first things I had to learn on the road to becoming a Registered Dietitian, was why people eat?

As for allergies,kids and their parents know what they can and can't eat, most kids take great delight telling you what they can't eat!! Sure we are not going to give a Lad with an allergy to nuts a Snickers bar, but on the same hand we are not going to avoid the stop at the Dairy Queen just because one Lad is lactose intolerant.

My #1 son is allergic to eggs, this has never prevented the other Lads that he camps with from having a good breakfast.

Eamonn.

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There are lots of other things to use besides food that work extremely well. Scout t-shirts, fishing lures, handbook covers, star charts, cook books, posters, water bottles, compass, etc.(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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I think the main point was lost after Ed's post...the critical definition IMHO is the word "prepare" and not decision...your anecdotal analogies are at best defining how you prepare a child to make a decision albeit positive, negative or dietary reinforcement. Children are inherently destined to pick up on the traits from their peers and role models...hopefully, those of us who are in scouting, prepare the boys that we are exposed to by allowing them to make informed decisions without drawing conclusions for them.

 

Incidentally, I take onus to your credit to your reference of Hillary - her book was a capitalization on an African proverb and previously titled childrens book prior to her use - however, my thoughts are summed up by another "let the Hilary Clintons of the world use Africa as a paradigm for reform of our own society. Our job is not to "authenticate" or criticize such internal western discourse but rather to keep in mind the richness and complexity of life in socieites which should not be seen simply as an "anti-West."

 

Another great reason for an international program like BSA...

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Eamonn,

I would say

 

"OJ pick up your toys" and expect it to be done! No other reminders. And if they weren't picked up by the end of the day they get bagged for the trash since they obviously aren't important enough to OK to be kept. I would bet the next time "OJ pick up your toys" was uttered the task would be completed.

 

Door prizes? Rewarding expected behavior? Not a good idea! Once you start this you end up rewarding everything anyone does & when someone does something spectacular it is diminished.

 

Helping boys make moral decisions sometimes takes telling them what to do then explaining why later. And there is nothing wrong with that.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Adults get rewarded for expected behavior all the time.

 

I had the good fortune of first taking Wood Badge before I was a parent. I learned a lot about leadership from that course that I have used in many aspects of my life.

 

When my son was old enough to start cleaning his room I would go in and say "let's clean up your room together." After we were done we played a game together. As he got older I would look in his room and say "how does your room look to you?" If he said fine I would ask how it might improve? He would smle and say it needed to be straightened. I would ask how long it might take. He would pick a number (lets say 10 minutes) I would offer to come get him in 10 minutes and we would go play.

 

After we played I asked if his room was done. We would go look at it together and I would tell him what he did really well. then I would ask "is there anything else you could do, or do better?" It really didn't matter how big or small a thing he found, my goal was to teach him to self-evaluate his work. After he did the tweaking we would play for 10 minutes again.

 

As he got older I could just look in his room at him and he would say "I know I need to clean my room". After he was done he would find me and we would do something together.

 

He is now 17 and cleans his own room as needed and then he comes and finds me. That is just a small example of how real scouting methods have helped my son to make ethical decisions. He cleans his room because it is being trustworthy, helpfull, courteous, obedient, clean, and he does it cheerfully.

 

While he is not "perfect", he does not smoke, drink, do drugs. He hangs around with nice kids, he is involved in sports, theater, scouts, plays the drums in the church youth ensemble, and may even get to Eagle (he is even Republican). He makes ethical decisions based on the values he has learned.

 

You do not need rules and commands to teach young people. You need to understand the lessons of scouting.

 

Thanks BSA!

 

 

 

 

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One way I like to explain our program is the adults should be reactive to the scouts, not proactive. Practice of making decisions and working with a team are the best teachers of developing habits that lead to making ethical decisions, not lecture. The hardest part of having a troop of reactive adults is getting the scouts to trust that we will not be over-reactive. Once an adult starts over reacting to a scout's failure, they lost that trust.

 

Barry

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Just because adults get awarded for expected behavior doesn't make it the right thing to do. Rewards should be kept for exceptional behavior.

 

I'm not a touchy feely guy. I believe in getting right to the point. Why waste time with fancy words when the same thing can be accomplished another way. But that's just me.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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So as Dr. Phil would say "So how's that workin' fer ya?"

 

I am sure that the scouts in "your" troop know to do what you say, but how many are left to listen to you?

 

Scouting teaches a different approach not because it uses pretty words but because it uses effective methods. Those methods retain and entice members, and achieves the mission of Scouting.

 

So why not take the short cut and just tell them what to do? Because it is not trustworthy, helpfull, friendly, courteous, kind, cheerful, or brave.

 

 

 

 

 

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