When campouts fail

It seems like an ideal troop outing. A trip to a local ski area for a weekend of snow sports. The slopes are not too steep but still full of fun and challenge. They offer downhill and cross-country skiing trails, snowboarding runs, ice skating and tubing. There are lights for nighttime skiing as well. Lessons are available, and there’s camping on site. The ski area is less than an hour’s drive away, and the cost is reasonable. There should be plenty to do for everyone.

But when only a few Scouts, and fewer adults, choose to attend, the outing has to be cancelled.

What went wrong? Continue reading “When campouts fail”

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 “Ask more questions!”

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 “The way Scouts learn”

He is describing chaos

New60minutesIf you’re a regular viewer of the CBS show 60 Minutes, you probably caught the remarkable story last Sunday of a prep school in Newark, New Jersey. St. Benedict’s is a private school that enrolls boys from grades seven through twelve from a wide demographic but with a common thread – most come from underprivileged backgrounds and are susceptible to the dangers that come with it.

Yet, ninety-eight percent stick with it and graduate; most go to college and do well, with nearly ninety percent earning a college degree.

How do they do it? Continue reading “He is describing chaos”

Where does patrol spirit start?

Courtesy of cashmeremiles.comThe cog that turns the wheels of Boy Scouting is the patrol method, and the grease that lubes the axle is something nebulously called patrol spirit.

Just what is patrol spirit? It’s the sense of friendship and cooperation that exists between members of a patrol. It’s the competitive nature and persistence that propels a patrol toward higher performance in fun, adventure, service and advancement (and winning those games of Capture the Flag).

Troops that don’t have standing patrols, where Scouts belong to – and do everything as – a patrol, are missing out on the major attraction of Scouting. Continue reading “Where does patrol spirit start?”