GEN: "Scouting's Purist vs.Pragmatist Debate" (Long)
Rodger Morris (rlm@SUNED1.NSWSES.NAVY.MIL)
Wed, 16 Nov 1994 18:01:29 PST
This is another excerpt from "250 Million Scouts", by Lazlo Nagy. The book
was put out by Dartnell Publishers. It cost me $9.95 a few years ago at our
council trading post. I highly recommend this book to those who are
interested in a broad overview of the world Scouting movement.
From pages 141-143, the following observations:
"As mentioned earlier, the 2nd International Conference in 1922 had revealed
that there was more than one way of dealing with a Scout problem, but it was
not until the 60's that the magnitude of the divergences really became apparent.
While different forms of Scouting were springing up in the four corners of
the world with virtually no communication between them, their considerable
diversity remained largely ignored. But gradually, due to better
communications and especially more frequent trips, exchanges and personal
contacts, it became clear that the programmes offered under the same label
were vastly different. Simultaneously, a certain lack of understanding
developed toward these other Scout Movements, sometimes mingled with
distrust and even hostility, due to the fact that each of them tended to
prefer the brand with which they were familiar and had come to practice. Not
enough attention was paid to the danger of judging what was barely understood.
The author of thid book is aware of the dangers of over-simplification and
will confine himself to two main schools of Scouting which have spread
throughout the world since 1907. They have already been briefly mentioned.
The first one puts the accent on the pedagogic aspects (possibly because
Scouting was first in the hands of teachers and other educators) and demands
a deep personal commitment. This is a highly spiritual form of Scouting
which lays great stress on values difficult to measure. The other school is
far more pragmatic and practical and emphasizes effectiveness and other
values relatively easy to measure. Its main criteria was that of success
where the boys are concerned. To put it in simplest terms, the first school,
much concerned with a social conscience, desires to help boys to do the
right things whereas the other is satisfied with doing things right.
The result of these two approaches is either a young man with better
"spiritual" qualities oriented toward inner growth - "man oriented" -or a
well trained loyal and efficient one. Not only do these two schools imply
different Scouting methods - the first being focussed on education and the
second on training - but also radically opposed conceptions concerning the
role of the adult in the movement and, in particular, that of career
professionals in Scouting.
During the large international gatherings, sharp words have been exchanged
by both sides on the other's concepts. In the words of Sarte: "Hell is other
people." Broadly speaking, the "spiritualists" reproached the "pragmatists"
with creating a huge "kindergarten" for big children under the label of
Scouting, while the pragmatists attacked the other side for chasing
rainbows. Since the pragmatists achieved a far bigger quantitative success
than the spiritualists who lost ground constantly, some were prepared to
impose the tried and proven techniques of the second school in order "to
save them". Others, scorning all material considerations, wished to convert
the black sheep who were "betraying true Scouting".
Unfortunately, these people - who were certainly well-intentioned - could
say "or" when they should have said "and". The truth is that neither side
was totally right or wrong. It was realized later that while the two brands
of Scouting were different they were in fact complementary and it was to
everyone's interest to understand and assimilate the methods of both.
Rodger Morris, email@example.com
Scoutmaster, Troop 852, Ventura County Council, BSA
National Woodbadge 416, Philmont, 1973
"I used to be a Beaver..."
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City