Jargon is an Old French word meaning “the chatter of birds”.
At it’s best Scouting jargon encapsulates a complex idea or definition for easy reference. At it’s worst jargon can become unintelligible, pretentious, convoluted vocabulary of the initiated.
Scouting has a lot of acronyms and initialization: ‘ We talked about EDGE at the PLC and encouraged them to use MaSeR during their SSC and SMART exercises.’
Scouting jargon is not, in itself, a bad thing. The danger is we use it until the concept expressed becomes secondary and the meaning is clouded or lost.
In training both adults and youth we often identify an idea or skill with a mnemonic or an acronym. Newly minted volunteers and Scouts begin on the outside looking in. They hear us say all kinds of things and are anxious to understand them. Knowing the jargon indicates you are an insider, you know what’s going on, it’s an important indication that you are one of ‘us’.
Or is it?
If we start by introducing the jargon and explaining it there’s a real possibility that folks walk away knowing the jargon without being illuminated by the underlying concept.
If, instead, they actively participate in an experience or problem, sort it all out, and then reflect on the concepts behind the way they approached it they will grasp the concepts first. We can introduce the jargon after they have a solid grasp of what it means.
We can’t make leaders but we can help Scouts and adults discover their talents. We can’t make Eagle Scouts but we can create the conditions that allow a Scout to become one.
At the heart of it all Scouting is a direct encounter with life rather than just thinking about or considering the possibilities of life. ‘Scout’ is a noun but it is also a verb. Scouts reconnoiter, explore, discover, reveal, observe, experience, evaluate, advance, venture, and pioneer. Scouts are in the vanguard of life, the living edge, always moving, always advancing.
In our instruction and training we should focus on the experience , the direct encounter with the ideas and concepts, the jargon will follow.