We learn best through action and discovery, not listening. Training is doing things in real time in real situations.
Leadership training is like a claw machine – a clumsy remote control experiment aimed at catching a prize worth less than the quarters required to win.
Training removed from the situation where the skills will be applied is about as effective as the controls on the claw machine.
Most training tends to favor abstract explanations and remote analysis over action.
Given the opportunity to go out and do compelling, interesting things Scouts train themselves in leadership. They don’t need manipulation through the seven points of something or the eleven steps of that – they need to go out and give things a try. Scouts are clamoring to do — not to study. Once they start doing real things instead of discussing or looking at videos of how things are to be done they begin leading.
Scouts learn best through action and discovery. Complex concepts are best understood by experiencing rather than discussing them. Reflecting on an experience is far more effective than an abstract explanation and analysis.
So how does a newly minted Patrol Leader (for instance) learn his job? The same way one learns to rappel down a wall or swim- by doing it. When learning to rappel or swim someone is nearby to help or explain but not to carry the Scout through the experience on their backs. Good training does not carry a youth leader through the experience – it puts him into the harness or in the pool.
We may observe but must not physically hover around a patrol meeting. For one our presence changes the situation, besides the temptation to interfere is often too great. Later, rather than making observations and talking too much, we ask lots of questions that enable the Scout to discover his strengths and find his own answers.
Once a Scout learns how to reflect on his own actions and find his own answers it will become an integral part of his experience as a leader – he learns to train by doing.