Re: Backwards advancement
Michael F. Bowman (mfbowman@CAP.GWU.EDU)
Fri, 22 Jul 1994 22:29:43 -0400
Somehwere along the line I think we all run into a Scout that is slow to
advance. Sometimes he just isn't ready. We can try to create an environ-
ment that encourages and motivates, but until the fire catches, he's just
going to lag it seems. However, once he does get excited I think we need
to recognize that positive accomplishment for what it is and without any
confusing gestures like backdating which would suggest that we are
disappointed in his slow progress. I think an unambiguous rewarding
message is much better for the Scout and will let him continue to progress
without being bogged down with guilt or anxiety.
If a Scouter (with all the good intentions in the world) tries to help by
changing the date, the Scout who at this age is just beginning to learn
that adults are not the ideal creatures he once thought them to be will
add this to his inventory of reasons to selectively ignore direction he
doesn't like or to become rebelious. The favor really isn't a favor.
Then consider the fact that in real life altering public records is a
felony crime. In corporate life, altering records may violate SEC and
other regulations or amount to fraud. While we are in the business of
teaching citizenship and how to live a TRUSTWORTHY life, it is
inconsistent to alter a record. What would that teach. If that lesson is
learned, how well served is that Scout latter in life, when he begins to
cheat on records he is responsible for; e.g. taxes, company accounts, etc.?
This also is important to this Scout in light of the situation with his
Environmental Sciences merit badge. I agree that we must presume the
Scout to be Trustworthy and that we can in such situations work with a
merit badge counselor to explain the circumstances an vouche for the work
that was completed. What happens though when on one hand his Scoutmaster
falsifies a record and then negotiates a deal with the merit badge
counselor? Does the Scout get the feeling that both are wrong? What
happens to his self-concept and self-esteem then?
I think that the backdating is never appropriate. When the Scout sees
that you are playing by the rules and that you are also supporting him as
a matter of fairness in vouching for the work he did, it sends a much
better message. He will understand that Scouting is not penalizing
him for a sequence of events that were not his fault or
responsibility. Then, if it is necessary for him to do an oral report or
make additional observations to satisfy the Counselor, it can be seen as a
much fairer process.
BTW, if you don't have an Environmental Sciences merit badge counselor in
your troop, you probably will find that a nearby troop does or that your
district or council has one available. A good place to find out is at
your monthly Scout Leader Roundtable meeting.
This sort of situation is always tough. We sometimes want very badly to
see the best thing happen for the Scout. What we need to do though is
step back and see it in the broader perspective sometimes. Maybe that
will help your Scoutmaster. Best of luck in resolving both matters.
Yours in Scouting, Michael F. Bowman, a/k/a Professor Beaver
Deputy District Commissioner Exploring, GW Dist., NCAC, BSA
Speaking only for myself, but with Scouting Spirit . . .
____ mfbowman@CAP.GWU.EDU ____
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City