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.
IN view of a very elaborate curriculum that was recently drawn up by one authority for standardizing the tests for badges, I was obliged to criticize it in this sense:
“I hope that the compilers are not losing sight of the aim and spirit of the Movement by making it into a training school of efficiency through curricula, marks, and standards. “Our aim is merely to help the boys, especially the least scholarly ones, to become personally enthused in subjects that appeal to them individually, and that will be helpful to them.
“We do this through the fun and jollity of Scouting; by progressive stages they can then be led on, naturally and unconsciously, to develop for themselves their knowledge. “But if once we make it into a formal scheme of serious instruction for efficiency, we miss the whole point and value of the Scout training, and we trench on the work of the schools without the trained experts for carrying it out.
“We have to remember that the Scoutmasters are voluntary play leaders in the game of Scouting, and not qualified school teachers, and that to give them a hard-and-fast syllabus is to check their ardour and their originality in dealing with their boys according to local conditions.
“I could quite imagine it frightening away many Scoutmasters of the right sort. “The syllabus as suggested seems to go a good deal beyond what is prescribed as our dose in Scouting for Boys; and if the proportions of the ingredients given in a prescription are not adhered to you cannot well blame the doctor if the medicine doesn’t work.
“Our standard for badge earning — as I have frequently said — is not the attainment of a certain level of quality of work (as in the school), but the AMOUNT OF EFFORT
EXERCISED BY THE INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATE. This brings the most hopeless case on to a footing of equal possibility with his more brilliant or better-off brother.
“We want to get them ALL along through cheery self-development from within and not through the imposition of formal instruction from without.”