During his lifetime Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the worldwide Scouting movement, wrote many books and articles directed to Scouters.
Each Sunday I’ll publish a selection from his writings in the hope that you’ll draw inspiration and understanding from his timeless ideas.
I HAVE endeavoured to explain our position in regard to education, on the following lines. The new scheme of National Education, so far as it has been recently fore-shadowed, may be indeed an improvement on the past, but it does not apparently pretend to anything much more than that already employed in America and elsewhere. Hard to beat if you look at it from the theoretical point of view, and if you are convinced by the reports of some of those responsible for it in those countries, but not so satisfactory if you regard its practical effects upon the nation.
At present the country spends so many millions on education, that is on training its sons and daughters to be good, healthy, prosperous citizens, and if education successfully effected this result there would be little to say against it.
But we have to look at the other side of the balance sheet as it actually exists. Here we find that we spend an equal number of millions on punishing our “educated” people for failing to be the good citizens they ought to be, or on trying to remedy their defects in this direction.
Prisons and police, poor relief and unemployed, aged poor and infant mortality, squalor, irreligion, seething discontent — what a crop of tares for all our sowing of expensive seed! All traceable more or less directly to the want of education — not education in the three R’s, but education in high ideals, in self-reliance, in sense of duty, in fortitude, in self-respect and regard for others — in one word, in those Christian attributes that go to make “Character,” which is the essential equipment for a successful career.
Is this being looked to in the new scheme of education?
In the Boy Scout Movement our aim is, as far as possible, so to shape our syllabus as to make it a practical form of character training, and to render it complementary to the scholastic training of the schools.
The necessary points to develop in our youth in order to evolve good citizens are:
These are stated in their order of importance.
Number 2 is taught in the schools. Number I is left to the pupils to pick up for themselves out of school hours, according to their environment. Number I is precisely what the Scout Movement endeavours to supply.
The two main methods of training are:
(1) By Education: that is by “drawing out” the individual boy and giving him the ambition and keenness to learn for himself.
(2) By Instruction: that is by impressing and drumming knowledge into the boy.
Number 2 of these is still too often the rule. In the Scout Movement we use Number I. By appealing to the instincts and nature of the boy we give him ambitions, and we afford him the opportunities for the venting of his animal spirits in a good direction.
In this way we are doing what we can to help the school authorities, and to complete their work.
From B.P.’s Outlook