Scouts-L Mail Archive for June of 1999: Doing Your Best
Doing Your Best
Sat, 12 Jun 1999 03:38:18 -0000
I've responded to Neil and Bruce privately concerning our recent discussion
about standards in Scouting, but I felt the need to send out another
reminder to everyone out there in listland.
A Scout promises to do his best when he pledges to live by the Scout Oath
and Law. A Cub Scout's motto is to do his best. That's what Scouting expect
from them AND me. Advancement is not a competition between individual
Scouts. It's a competition between what a Scout THINKS he can do, and what
he can ACTUALLY do. My job is to show the Scout the difference.
If I were to set a specific standard that every Scout had to meet before he
could advance, I would quickly lose sight of the real purpose of
advancement. Without a specific standard, I can concentrate on challenging
each Scout to better himself. With a specific standard, I end up
concentrating on making sure each Scout meets that standard. Some Scouts may
never be able to meet my standard while others will easily surpass it. The
Scouts who easily meet the standard aren't challenged to become better at a
skill, and their perception of what their ability is hasn't been challenged.
Scouts who can't meet the challenge may get better, and their confidence in
their ability might change, but they don't get anything for it.
As I see it, it doesn't matter how pretty the Scout looked doing the
requirement as long as he's learned the skill and his confidence has grown.
I'm not proposing we let a Scout slide by with work that doesn't complete
the requirement. I'm proposing that the standard for each requirement
depends first on the Scout's skill level, and second on his confidence
It's true that some Scouts won't be challenged by some requirements. A Scout
who cooks dinner for his family three times a week won't find much challenge
in the Tenderfoot cooking requirement. A Scout who's never touched a cooking
utensil in his life, however, may have to try a couple times to get an
edible meal. The first Scout's skill level may not increase, but his
confidence will because he's been tested and succeeded. The second Scout's
skill level will definitely increase, and so will his confidence. He may
never be invited to cook another meal by his patrol, but he HAS done his
best. When it comes time to test him on Second Class cooking requirements,
his skill and confidence will increase again. It may still not be perfect,
but he's done his best.
By setting the same standard for everyone to meet you create a situation
where some Scouts will fail and some will succeed. Those that fail might
have challenged themselves very much, but they still fail. The argument is
that, if he challenges himself and fails, he can keep trying until he
succeeds. That misses the point of advancement requirements completely. The
standard that needs to be met is stated in the requirement, the quality
standard comes from the Scout himself.
When a Scout does his best to swim 25 yards and only swims 24, he's done his
best, but failed to complete the requirement. That means he has to challenge
himself to do better. He has another chance. With a qualitative standard,
not only does he have to swim 25 yards, but he has to swim that distance at
a specific skill level. That leaves me asking how many times he has to swim
25 yards before he swims it well enough to get credit for it? In my troop,
he only has to swim it once. The quality of his swimming ability will have
to be better to pass the First Class requirement, but that's the challenge
of First Class, not Second Class.
Now, a word about proficiency. Proficiency does not mean competency. I was a
competent student in school. I was no where near proficient. I'm a competent
swimmer, which means I can swim well enough to save my own life. If I was a
proficient swimmer, I could save your life as well. Please don't count on it
;-) Proficiency implies skill, advanced skill; enough to teach others.
Competency implies skill, basic skill; enough to get by.
A. J. Mako, firstname.lastname@example.org , Scoutmaster Troop 381
Home of the Unofficial Win95 Boy Scout Desktop Theme,
Old Portage District, Great Trail Council, BSA
"I used to be an Eagle (C-7-97), but I'll always be an Eagle (1981)"