Re: Signaling Requirement, NOT!
Fri, 11 Feb 1994 10:47:44 -0500
I am amazed at how Scouting, somehow, has been able to implement some of
the best learning methods before they become widely adopted by educators.
We now learn in BSA Scoutmaster's Fundamentals the "Learning" is the one
word that best describes Scouting. For me, however, the examples used to
model learning are most interesting. Two ideas educators are working on
are "authentic learning" and "constructivist learning." Authentic learn-
ing refers to providing real problems for kids to work on; constructi-
vism refers to letting the kids develop their own understanding, instead
of having it pumped into them by lecturing.
Both of these ideas bring into question the role of testing in the learn-
ing process. In BSA, we are encouraged to watch the boy as he performs a
task based on what he is trying to learn. But, instead of testing him to
see if he understands the concept, we are to observe him during the pro-
cess of solving a problem--even if it takes many tries--and simply an-
nounce "You've got it!" when the boy successfully achieves the objective
and appears to us to have grasped the idea.
This no-formal-testing approach challenges us to rethink our own processes
of learning. If we learn something on our own (for most users of this BBS,
I would think that recalling how she or he learned to use a computer and
the Internet system would be a good example), we seldom if ever use formal
testing to determine whether we have learned. Instead, we do! And if we do
correctly, we get results. Do not our own experiences show that life-long
learning depends very little--maybe none at all--on formal testing. Instead
it depends on solving a real problem facing each of us, and solving it in
our own individual way. In other words, we construct our own knowledge to
solve authentic problems.
Signalling; Morse code; wig-wag; semaphore...I did them all when I was a
Scout over forty years ago. But think about (a few might be able to actually
remember) communications in the 1950's. There was no alternative to signal-
ling when we were outdoors. "Victory At Sea" type pictures were shown on the
Warner-Pathe news at the theatre and we saw semaphore actually being used
in authentic situations. My father was in the Navy in WW2 and we could
relate to each other through the process of learning signalling: he had
authentic experience in its use, I wanted to be like him. However, I dis-
tinctly recall that it was the authenticity of the process that drove me.
I have sons in Cubs and in Scouts. They relate to me through our common
interests in computers, CB, cellular phone, etc. They each had toys that
would communicate by voice over the same or greater distance as the old
visual signalling methods. What is authentic to them in learning signalling?
(They actually have learned some of it simply because I've told them about
it, but most parents are too young to have had authentic experiences with
the old methods of signalling.) To require them to learn a technique that is
of questionable value to them in life--a technique that they know has been
replaced with better methods--is to take the authenticity out of their
Scouting experience. My own troop, on more than one occasion, has camped in
the wild with an adult who has had a cellular phone (required by the
adult's profession, in each case) or a beeper.
If we want Scouting to be fun and to be a learning experience, we should
carefully choose what is to be learned so that learning is fun. Kids get
enough experience in school with learning that is not fun. I think we
should keep Scouting away from learning for the sake of learning. That's
an idea for older folks (like me). Signalling should be available, but
dropping the requirement was the right move.
Charles Jones, ASM T22, Muncie Indiana
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City