How do you share knowledge or skills with more than one person?
If it’s just three or four people we get them together and tell them. Easy, right?
What if it’s ten or twenty people?
How about thirty?
When numbers grow we start thinking in terms of economy. The classroom is an economical model of instruction, we are all familiar with classrooms, so we’ll probably employ that model.
We stand in front, our students to sit still, pay attention, and we teach, we evaluate the knowledge we have shared with assignments and tests.
What if we need to share that knowledge with several hundred thousand people?
Now we are off to the races! We draw up an efficent, economical, curriculum; establish standards, print and distribute copies.
This is economical and efficent, but it is not Scouting, not by a long shot.
In 1921 the founder of Scouting, Robert Baden-Powell wrote this in his column “The Outlook”;
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.
“The fun and jollity of Scouting” can’t coexist with a “formal scheme of serious instruction for efficiency”.
Scouts are not regimented into herds for instruction, they are “led on” by “progressive stages… naturally and unconsciously, to develop for themselves their knowledge”
Natural, instinctive, fun and jollity! What could be better?
We are all familiar with the concept of ‘virality’ when an image, video, or idea circulates rapidly on the internet, it cannot be contained.
Authentic Scouting is viral!
Authentic Scouting spreads “naturally and unconsciously” too, it cannot be contained. Scouts become “personally enthused” and “develop for themselves their knowledge”.
But (there’s always a “but” isn’t there?), you say; “My Scouts aren’t enthused, there’s fun an jollity, but not about what they need to learn; they don’t like (fill in the blank)”.
That happens when we have lost “sight of the aim and spirit of the Movement”. We have taken the virality out of Scouting by “making it into a training school of efficiency”.
Baden-Powell was careful to distinguish between authentic and synthetic Scouting;
By “synthetic scouting” I mean the Scout system obscured by overclothing the natural form with rules and instructive literature, tending to make what originally was, and should be, an open-air game into a science for the Scouter and a school curriculum for the boy.
If we take the “natural form”, the “open-air game”, the “fun and jollity” and force it into a “school curriculum” we have only ourselves to blame.
If we supplant the free and easy exploration of “subjects that appeal to them individually, and that will be helpful to them” with what I have come to call the “merit badge industrail complex” we create only reluctant conformity rather than excitement and engagement.
Scouting goes viral when we focus on the “aim and spirit of the Movement”; that enthusiastic, open-air, game that can’t be contained in a curriculum or a classroom.