Real learning happens when we connect the unknown to the known, the theoretical to the practical. This “eureka moment” isn’t accidental, it is a result of applying effective instructional methods for Scouts.
Scouting is a unique instructional situation. We can adapt methods from other disciplines like teaching and coaching but they should serve the goals of instruction laid out by Scouting’s founder Baden Powell:
When it is applied with understanding and consideration the advancement program fosters encouragement and ambition regardless of an individual boy’s abilities.
It is for this reason that the standard of proficiency is purposely left undefined.
Our standard is not the attainment of a certain level of quality of knowledge or skill, but the amount of effort the boy has put into acquiring such knowledge or skill. This brings the most inept to an equal footing with his more capable brother.
Evaluation for Badges is not competitive. The Scoutmaster judge each individual case on its merits, and discriminating where to be generous and where to tighten up. Some are inclined to insist that their Scouts should be expert before they can get a Badge. That is very right, in theory; you get a few boys pretty proficient in this way but our object is to get all the boys interested. The Scoutmaster who rewards effort as opposed to expertise develops confidence and enthusiasm, whereas a demanding standard of performance makes boys reluctant and hesitant.
The other extreme is almost giving away the Badges on very slight knowledge of the subjects. Scoutmasters should use their sense and discretion, keeping the main aim in view. There is always the danger of Badge-hunting supplanting Badge-earning. Our aim is to encourage initiative and self confidence, instead of showy, self-indulgence. The Scoutmaster must be on the alert to check Badge-hunting and to realize which is the Badge-hunter is and which is the eager and earnest worker. The success of the Advancement Program depends very largely on the Scoutmaster himself and his individual handling of it.
Scout aged boys are inquisitive, investigative and eager to learn when their natural curiosity is stimulated. Conversely they become lifeless, unresponsive stones when they are compelled, rather than inspired, to learn or advance.
IT IS, IN FACT, NOTHING short of a miracle that the modern methods of education have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. To the contrary, I believe that it would be possible to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast to devour continuously, even when not hungry, especially if the food, handed out under such coercion, were to be selected accordingly. — Albert Einstein
True learning happens when we inspire and nurture the “holy curiosity of inquiry” by applying basic principles to our methods;
• Scouts are eager to learn.
• Instructional methods must be tailored to match a pupil’s age and ability.
• Active discovery beats passive learning.
• Good learning requires freedom of inquiry.
• Scouts thrive on challenge.
Most of us default to ‘classroom’ methods of teaching and evaluating; methods where the teacher is active and the pupils are passive. Lecture style instruction is never as effective or compelling as a process of guided discovery. These situations are more likely to result in frustration rather than learning.
Once again Baden Powell gets at the spirit of the subject:
If once we make Scouting into a formal scheme of serious instruction and efficiency, we miss the whole point and value of Scout training, and imitate the work of schools without the trained experts for carrying it out.
We want to get all our boys along through affirmative self-development from within and not through the imposition of formal instruction from without. The advancement program stimulates enthusiasm on the part of any boy to do things that can be helpful in forming his character or developing his skill.
Effective methods of instructing Scouts are not simply classroom methods disguised by renaming them; they are actually different methods. It may be useful to eliminate some classroom methods from the outset;
• No lectures lasting more than about 2 minutes (a lecture, for our purposes, is defined as pupils passively listening to an instructor speak)
• No pre-printed written tests or evaluations
• No handouts over 1 page long (back and front)
• No extensive note taking
• No ‘homework’
Now that we have eliminated most of the methods of instructing common in Scout Troops and Camp we can examine methods (in the next several postings to this blog) that inspire the spirit of inquiry and active learning that is the goal of Scouting.
|Get Instructional Methods for Scouts as a PDF document and many other resources in the ScoutmasterCG PDF package|