Re: "Dumbed-down MBs (Was Re: Signalling)
settummanque, or blackeagle (blkeagle@DYNASTY.NET)
Thu, 29 May 1997 12:41:39 -0500
Gary Hendra!! asked:
>Any of you middle-agers, like me, know when BSA removed the >signalling
requirement from the First Class rank requirments?
They did so with the "Scouting/USA" era (1972/73) and replaced it with
the Communications Skill Award, which emphasized "public speaking,
teaching, writing and being part of a discussion group" as forms
Even so, Communications was not one of the five skills REQUIRED for
First Class, and many Scouts earned Communications on the way toward
earning the Merit Badge, though the two were only connected in the
requirements for both skill and merit badge. The requirements were almost
>Do you know why they did that?
Yeah, to make Scouting more "alluring" and "attractive" to those kids in
rural and urban areas (which in reality, they basically told them "we're
going to dumb down the requirements and make it easy for you..." Only thing
is, Gary, the BSA didn't do enough research to realize that the "Rugged
Road" that the BSA was promoting back then was EXACTLY what those kids was
looking for, needed and *wanted* to do!
The official line is to "make Scouting more accessible to the three-quarters
of this nation's youth that for reasons beyond their or their parents'
control, cannot enjoy or even access Scouting's citizenship, character and
personal fitness building programs." Also to "make Scouting more relevant to
today's (70's) young man".
>Has anyone considered that BSA dumbed down the requirements >sometime in
the past 30 years?
I think that from the 1964 Boy Scout requirements to the requirements of
today, we've "dumbed-down" and then tried to "get smart". In the process of
doing both, we've lost youth and a lot of adult (chartered partner)
support, mainly because "the BSA is NOT the BSA I remembered"
(which could be both bad -- and good. Good in the way that much of the
stuff that has been "littering up" the program in the past....merit badges,
for instance, that only a relatively handful earn; council camps that lose
monies each and every summer except for the first and last years; career
executives that were hired not for their Scouting knowledge and willingness
to serve others but rather because of their fundraising and marketing
backgrounds; too many publications in the hands of too few people; a
"structure" that was bent toward bureaucracy instead of what the program is
supposed to be about; and on and on...
....bad in the way that the BSA program has been "watered down" so much and
now is trying to "dry itself out", and in the meantime many of the leaders
still think that it's *supposed to be still watered down* so THEY put MORE
"water" onto it and make is VERY EASY for a Scout to make it
to First Class. This argument doesn't work, though, Gary....if they have
been "watering down" the requirements so much, then why in the world do we
STILL have problems getting Scouts to earn First Class and why do we STILL
have problems getting Scouts toward Eagle? If everything was
so "dumbed-down" still, we should be seeing 5-8 percent of our Boy Scout
membership as Eagle Scouts instead of the 3 percent or so.
I believe that we've come up on the "massive wreck" that Bill Hillcourt said
we would see, when we "forget what the program is about and continue to
concentrate on the tangibles". Scouting, from its start, was based on kids
receiving "intangibles".....a better understanding of citizenship, some
additional training toward developing a character which would be of usage to
the individual, community and nation, and a furtherment of the personal
health and fitness of our youth. You can't "see" those things for the most
part, but they are measurable.
Instead, we have been "badging" our Scouts (and Scouters) to "death" because
of America's competitive nature and the desire of Americans to "constantly
compare themselves to each other and ourselves and the "ideal". In the
past, we've talked about the badges that we in the American Scouting
programs bring out and present/award to our youth and what other nation's
programs have....and many of them are for things which are, when you get
down to the essences, are for "competitive programs and events". Take our
our advancement program, our identification insignia, and you can see what
I'm talking about. Yet try to
take away any of those IMPORTANT things (and they are important,
believe me!), and you'll have cries of "you're ruining our program!!"
The Merit Badges are one example. While morse code and semaphore was fun
(it was HARD for me, but it was fun once I learned morse code!), it has
little relvancy in today's Internet-laden, fax and phone environment.
Instead of eliminating the badge, it should have been updated to include
more modern forms of communication.....and perhaps instead of Signalling,
it should have been renamed "Visual Communcation".
But, Gary, many of those decisions are based not on "thinking" but rather on
"numbers", and in the case of that Merit Badge, the numbers clearly
indicated that *very few* Scouts earned that Merit Badge and a couple others
and it is time to "retire it". I don't agree with the way that the
decision was made, because it doesn't lend itself to Scouters like us
helping National to understand that if you add more "up-to-date"
requirements and perhaps rename it, that many of the Merit Badges that they
"cut" from the list could perhaps still be useful to *today's young man".
(c) 1997 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://www.vhm.com/~uscardnl/
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