This recent post from Seth Godin encourages us to think about the way we approach our work as Scout leaders:
We train kids to deal with teachers in a certain way: Find out what they want, and do that, just barely, because there are other things to work on. Figure out how to say back exactly what they want to hear, with the least amount of effort, and you are a ‘good student.’
The attitude is a matter of self-preservation… Take initiative and you might fail, leading to a reprimand…
It leaves no room for real growth…
The opportunity of our age is to get out of this boss as teacher as taskmaster as limiter mindset.
Is Scouting a program of limitations or a program of potential? That’s easy, right? Obviously we strive to be a program that promotes a Scouts potential for development, not one that imposes limitations.
We promote potential by coaching our Scouts giving them real responsibility and watching what happens. Potential is a two edged sword – there’s potential to succeed and potential to fail.
Scouting does have limitations but these limitations are not restrictions so much as they are demarcations defining the field of play just like chalk lines on a playing field.
One limitation we can control and overcome is the level or our patience and foresight in dealing with the volatility, uncertainty and sometimes chaotic energy of promoting potential.
Naturally it’s much easier and safer to default to the methods of the school or workplace; methods designed to minimize volatility and uncertainty.
“It is not the curriculum of Scouting that is the most striking feature, but it is the method… it affords an opportunity for initiative, self-control, self-reliance, and self-direction.
“In the development of initiative Scouting depends [on] a splendid opportunity… to break away from any encrusting method. It comes about in the Patrol and in the Troop. It teaches the boys to work together in teams. It secures co-operative effort for a common end; that is a democratic thing in and of itself . . .
… you can do more for them even than by encouraging their proficiency or their discipline or their knowledge, because you are teaching them not how to get a living so much as how to live.”
Dean James E. Russell quoted in Baden-Powell’s ‘Aids to Scoutmastership‘