Bobwhite

Bobwhite Blather

Information, Observation, and Inspiration for Scouters

Ask more questions!

questionmark_200Teaching and developing others, particularly young people, can be a challenge. We try to organize a set of facts in a logical manner and deliver it to the receiving parties coherently, so the transfer of information is correct and goes smoothly.

But does it?

Sometimes it seems like we can talk and lecture until we’re blue in the face, but it just doesn’t engage the others. People tend to zone out if they’re getting too much information. There’s not an infinite capacity to receive and store what’s being explained to them.

It’s important to engage the brain in a manner other than just listening to what’s being said. Continue reading

The way Scouts learn

The-Patrol-LeaderOur older son, a second-year medical student, came over and joined us for lunch this weekend. He filled us in on some of what the school is planning for next year’s incoming class. For the past year, he has been the volunteer leader of a co-curricular study program called Case-Based Learning, in which second-year students mentor first-years in situational learning. They work in small groups, posing hypothetical situations appropriate to what they’ve been covering in lecture, with the first-year students mulling over the problem and coming up with a solution collaboratively. After being impressed with its success, the dean of the medical school met with my son to talk about how this independent study concept could be incorporated into the actual curriculum. He told us that, starting next year, many of the large lecture classes (which can include a couple hundred students) are going to be replaced with smaller study groups, where students will take turns learning specific skills or elements and then teach them to the rest of the students in their small group. The concept is that by teaching a new skill themselves, students will learn it better than if they’ve just heard someone lecturing them about it and retaining it just long enough to repeat it back on an exam.

My first reaction was to observe that it sounds pretty much like the patrol method at work. Continue reading

Adults teaching Scout skills

out_on_a_hike_250Suppose that instead of a usual weekend campout, the Scouts of your troop have decided to go on a weekend hike – maybe to get a taste of what a longer voyage like a Philmont trek might be like.

They’ll start out by getting dropped off Friday night, hike to their first campsite, set up and camp overnight. Then in the morning they’ll have breakfast, pull up stakes and hit the trail. Lunch is enroute, then arrival at a second site Saturday evening, where they’ll set up again, cook dinner, have a campfire and turn in. After Sunday morning’s breakfast, they’ll break camp and hike to where the parents are waiting to pick them up.

This requires not only a good amount of planning but some training, so the Scouts will know what to expect and what to plan for. Continue reading

What aren’t they learning in school?

auditorium_250Every school day, our Scouts get up in the morning, have their breakfast, gather their belongings and head off to school for a day of learning. Important subjects such as history, English, mathematics, science, music and art are taught, with the aim that our young people will acquire a well-rounded set of skills to give them a starting point when they head out to college and a career.

Trouble is, they aren’t learning the important stuff. In fact, what they actually¬†are¬†learning most likely works counter to their future aspirations. Continue reading

Get off your high horse

highhorseWhen I started as the committee chair of our troop, one of the things that went through my mind was how many things I’d need to be responsible for. I had a pretty good handle on advancement (or so I thought), matters of finance and the rules of safety and youth protection. But what about the outdoor program? Camping equipment? High adventure?

Sooner or later, I learned that I didn’t need to know every nuance and detail of those subjects, because we had other volunteers who had the know-how to take care of them. I relied on them for a basic understanding of their areas, and let them do what was needed without any interference.

A committee chair who views himself or herself as the ultimate expert on every aspect of troop operations is fooling himself and shortchanging those around him. Continue reading