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The Scout Method

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The Scout Method

Post  Warloque on Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:15 am


The seven elements:
  1. Promise and Law
  2. Learning by doing
  3. Team System
  4. Symbolic Framework
  5. Personal Progression
  6. Nature
  7. Adult Support

The Scout Method is the informal educational system used by Scouting. The aim of Scouting is character training, to become an independent person, helpful to other people. Thereby Scouts will become "healthy, happy, helpful citizens".

The Scout Method by which this aim is achieved suggests attractive games in the primitive outdoors, giving challenges which a Scout learns to solve by himself. Therefore, a Scout is given independence, leadership, the ambition to learn by himself, a law with positive goals, and the example of the leader. According to founder Robert Baden-Powell, the Scout Method works naturally and unconsciously: naturally in the way that it follows the natural impulses of a Scout, unconsciously in the way that the Scout is not aware of the education.

The Scout Law embodies the joint values of the Scouting Movement all over the world which binds all Scouts together. The emphasis on "Learning by doing" provides experiences and hands on orientation as a practical method of learning and confidence building. Small groups build unity and a brotherly atmosphere to develop responsibility, character, self-reliance and self-confidence, reliability, and readiness; which eventually leads to collaboration and leadership. An attractive program of varying activities expands a Scout's horizons and bonds the Scout even more to the group. Activities and games develop handiness and provide a fun way to develop skills. In an outdoor setting, these also provide contact with nature and the environment.

The seven elements
The World Organization of the Scout Movement's (WOSM) definition of the Scout Method has changed over the years. Through the 1980s it was composed of four elements: Scout Law and Scout Promise (Scout Oath), learning by doing, development of small groups, and a progressive and attractive programs of different activities. This changed in the 1990s. WOSM now divides the method in 7 elements:

Promise and Law

- The Scout Law is a personal code of living, guiding the way in which each Scout lives his or her life. It is not a repression of faults, so was not framed as a list of don't's. It merely states what is good form and expected of a Scout. The Scout Law is therefore at the heart of the Scout Method. With the Scout Promise a Scout is engaged to do his best to obey the Scout Law and it mentions the main principles:
  • Duty to God
  • Duty to others
  • Duty to self

- Prohibition. Scouting does not prohibit a bad habit, but instead gives more exciting, better alternatives, that will absorb the Scout's attention and gradually lead him to forget the old habit. The reason is that "prohibition generally invites evasion, since it challenges the spirit inherent in every red-blooded boy. The boy is not governed by DON'T, but is led on by DO."

- Spirituality. A Scout should be spiritual but Scouting is open to all religions. Scouting deals with religions in the practical way: by nature study (to see what God is) and helping others (which is what God asks for). According to Baden-Powell this was part of all religions. Scouting did this by education in life-saving techniques and also by the daily good turn. Nowadays, in some countries, a religion is not a duty anymore, as long as the Scout follows the Scout Promise and Law.

- Good turns. The good turn is a key component of the Promise and Law, because it is the duty to others, which according Baden-Powell was the main duty God asks for, which makes one happy (the duty to yourself). The intention was not so much the turn itself, which could be minor, but to teach the Scout to always pay attention and recognise if he could help someone.

Learning by doing

The Scout game is full of practical action. In the first place because this interests the Scout, secondly because only during practising on its own the Scout will get experience how theory works. Although Baden-Powell put emphasis on practical work and on the Scout learning by himself, he does not rule out the need for instruction by leaders or in books. The phrase "Learning by doing" is nowadays much used in Scouting (although difficult to find in Baden-Powell's writings).

Team System

The Patrol System is the one essential feature in which Scout training differs from that of all other organizations, and where the System is properly applied, it is absolutely bound to bring success. The formation of the boys into Patrols of from six to eight, and training them as separate units, each under its own responsible leader is the key to a good Troop. "

— Robert Baden-Powell

- Patrol System (or Patrol Method), the individual in a group. Scouts are organised in small groups (about 5-7 Scouts) because this is the natural way boys work together. These Patrols are therefore more important than the Scout Troop. Patrols must be kept intact under all circumstances, which means working, tenting, learning, cooking, thus, surviving together. In a Patrol, the Scouts learn to work with others, while the Patrol Leader learns responsibility for others. Both have to give in a part of their personal interest for this. And yet, Scouting deals with the individual, not with the Company. A Scout has his own identity within the group and learns as an individual. The Patrol serves as the character school for the individual. Younger Sections, such as Cub Scouts, are also divided into Sixes (Cubs). Cub Sixes have a Sixer and Second Sixer (Assistant Sixer).

- Court-of-Honour (COH) or Patrol Leaders' Council (PLC). The Scout Patrols are subjected to a COH or PLC, formed by the Patrol Leaders along with the Scout Leader as Advisor. This is a peer system in which Scouts discuss each other's behaviour and is part of the Self-governing.

Symbolic Framework

- Imagination. Scouting plays on the imagination of the Scout, who loves to "make-believe"; live in the imaginative world of adventurers, such as backwoodsmen, pioneers, sailors and airmen. It is a non-serious world, taken seriously by the Scouts, similar to the reader of a book or spectator of a movie, who voluntarily make-believes that what he reads or sees is real, while at the same time knowing it is not. The Scout identifies with the personal qualities of his heroes. With his experience as a popular amateur-actor, Baden-Powell built into Scouting a somewhat strange, theatrical and non-serious environment, by words with strange meanings, yells, songs and customs. In essence, the common uniform is also part of this theatre.

- Rituals. Scouting has a small number of rituals. They are designed to be short, simple and attractive for young Scouts, but with underlying symbolic values. For instance the Cub Yell during the opening ritual: "We DOB, DOB, DOB" is a funny yell for the Cubs, but at same time the abbreviation of "we Do Our Best".

Personal progression

- Self-reliance. Baden-Powell wanted a Scout to learn to make his own decisions, without solely following his comrades or leaders as a herd. This would make the boy a man. Baden-Powell wrote that (symbolically) a Scout should paddle his own canoe. Not in a rowing boat, with his back to where he goes, rowed by others and someone else at the rudder, but alone in a canoe: facing the future, paddling and steering by himself. Scouting teaches self-reliance by bringing the Scouts into a challenging, to somewhat risky environment, without help in the direct neighbourhood. Therefore (while at the same time it is attractive) the program is based on an adult, adventurous outdoor life. "A man's job cut down to boy's size."

- Self-governing. Giving responsibility to the Scouts is a keystone of the Scout Method: "expect him to carry out his charge faithfully. Don't keep prying to see how he does. Let him do it his own way. Let him give a howler over it if need be, but in any case leave him alone." The Patrol is therefore almost independent, while the Troop is run by the Patrol Leaders in the Patrols' Leaders Council and Court-of-Honour.

- Self-learning. Education in Scouting should give a Scout the ambition and desire to learn by himself, which is more valuable than only instruction by leaders. This is done by suggesting the Scout to undertake activities that attract him individually. Those could be selected from Scouting for Boys.

- Badge system or Personal Progressive Scheme. This is based on two complementary elements:
  • Proficiency (Merit) badges, which are intended to encourage the Scout to learn a subject which could be his work or hobby, so cover many different types of activities, not always related to the Scouting game.
  • Class badges or Progress system:
    - Class badges are successive stages in which the Scout learns the techniques needed for the Scout game. An important final test for the Scout is making a journey by its own, proving its independence.
    - The Personal progress system is recently introduced by the WOSM as an alternative for the Class badges. They symbolise the successive stages which young people will need to go through in order to reach the educational objectives within each age section. It puts more emphasis on personal objectives of physical, intellectual, affective, social, spiritual and character development.

Badges were not a final goal, but a first step, which gives a Scout encouragement. The Scout should then decide by himself to proceed because he likes it, without further need of standards. Scouting should not be a high standard of knowledge. However, in time, this part of the Method has diminished. By raising the standards the Proficiency badges became "expert" and Class badges became final or, like in the USA, additional levels were built above the class badges.

- Non-competitive. Education in Scouting is non-competitive because Scouts should learn because they like the subject, not just in competition to be better than others.

- Individual. Education in Scouting is individual, because every Scout, even the clumsy ones, must be inspired to learn. The goal is not the quality of the whole group, but the Scout should get attention to proceed on his own level. The badges signify not a certain quality of knowledge or skill, but as "the amount of effort the Scout puts into his work." The standards were therefore intentionally not clearly defined.


- Nature as the learning school. The Scouting game mostly takes place in Nature, because it is an adventurous environment with challenges, which Scouts want to conquer. In this way the Scout and the Patrol learn to overcome difficulties, learning to make their own decisions.

- God in nature. According to Baden-Powell, the Scout could find God in Nature when he realised the complexity and beauty in Nature.

- Love of outdoors. Although Scouts see Nature as an adventurous place and like to cut a tree rather than to preserve it, it is expected that when they get older the experience from their youth will make them nature-lovers.

Adult support

- Example of the leader. An important part of Scouting education is the personal example of the leader. The Scout is impressed by the leader because of his age, his knowledge, and his position as a leader. If the leader is popular he will be an attractive goal to reach for, so the Scout will follow his example. The Scoutmaster living the Scout Law will therefore have more influence than simply talking about it. In the boys' eyes it is what a man does that counts and not so much what he says.

- Guide. The Self-governing of the boys changes also the role of the leader: "I had stipulated that the position of Scoutmaster was to be neither that of a schoolmaster nor of a Commanding Officer, but rather that of an elder brother among his boys, not detached or above them, able to inspire their efforts and to suggest new diversions when his finger on their pulse tells him the attraction of any present craze was wearing off." Scouting leaders should not direct, but guide (and check on safety).



Girl Guide variation

- Service in the community. While community service is a major element of both the WOSM and WAGGGS programs, WAGGGS includes it as an extra element of the Scout Method.

Last edited by Warloque on Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:13 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: The Scout Method

Post  Warloque on Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:21 am

Use the Scout Method

The Scout Method builds on the belief that all young people have potential and Scouting's role is to uncover and release this potential. Scouting does this by putting each young person at the centre of his or her own development and by helping young people to work in teams to achieve their potentials.

This way of working with young people is universal. Through Scouting it has been shown to be effective irrespective of family background, nationality, religion. It is also very important to train leaders to work in this way and adult training and support is a key element of the projects.

Example 1: Slovakia

The Scout Method was taken to the Roma community and with the assistance of leaders of the community was adapted to meet the needs of the young Roma. There is a particular focus on music, dance and retaining the Roma culture. This works alongside some of the elements of Scouting of working in small groups, decision-making and having positive role models but it has been very important to work alongside the leaders and the young people to make Scouting and the Scout Method relevant to them.

Example 2: Hong Kong

The Scout Group for young offenders in Hong Kong runs along the same principles as other Scout Groups and the Scout Method is a key element of helping behaviour change in the young offenders. Through providing a challenging and attractive programme, based on the Scout Promise and Law, the young offenders can begin to test their abilities, see their potential and begin to find another path away from crime and offending. The activities are much the same as would be found in any Scout Group, hiking, camping, first-aid, mapping, pioneering to name but a few. Scouting and the Scout Method offers these young people the chance to develop skills and self-esteem which are key elements to supporting their re-integration back into society.

Example 3: El Salvador

By using the Scout Method, the energy of the gang leaders was channeled in a positive way. Young people from different backgrounds were in a group; working together to achieve tasks, learning by doing and learning how to enter into dialogue and co-operate with each other. The use of the Scout Promise and Law was also a key aspect of working with the former gang members. They were shown how to live out a commitment to the set of positive values expressed in the Scout Promise and Law. This has been a life-changing experience for over 15,000 young people over the past 8 years.

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Re: The Scout Method

Post  Warloque on Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:39 pm

Here is another extracted version of the Scout Method which I find helpful. This version brings the dimension of camping into the Scout Method, which I find it easy to use as a reference for understanding how the Scout Method can be applied.

1. Law & Promise
The Scout Law is intended to be an age and culture appropriate formulation of Scouting's Principles and is the code of living that Scouts are to follow, to the best of their ability. A Law and Promise is developed by the Scout organization of each country of the world. This allows a single set of principles to be the basis of Scouting world wide, while maintaining a Law and Promise which appeals to the people of a given country. For example, a country in which most of the population is Muslim would likely have a promise which mentions a duty to Allah. However, an emphasis on tradition means that Scout Laws and Promises often do not keep up with cultural change. In Canada for example, the promise mentions a duty to God despite the fact that many families have no connection with any religious body.

The Scout Law should be simple so that it is known and understood by everyone and it should be phrased in the positive. "The [Scout] is not governed by DON'T, but is led on by DO. The Scout Law is devised as a guide to [the Scout's] actions, rather than as repressive of [their] faults" (Baden-Powell 1945:22). The Scout Promise is the pledge that each Scout makes upon investiture in which they show that they understand the Scout Law and that they intend to do their best to keep it (WOSM 1998:15).

The Law should be part of everyday life at a Scout Camp. It should be used as the primary tool for establishing rules and routines, and for handling behaviour problems. This is not just with the campers. The same tool should be used for establishing the rules that the staff will follow. When rules are established and clearly based on the Law, they are more readily accepted by those who are to follow the rules since campers and staff alike prefer to be led on by "dos rather than governed by don'ts".

When camp rules are phrased in the negative instead, and never linked back to the Law. The campers would most likely just be told to stop doing whatever they are doing. This puts the responsibility for behaviour on the camp staff rather than on the camper, where it must be for the camper to learn how to get along with others. Emphasizing the Scout Law causes the camper or staff member to think about their own actions and make their own informed decisions, leading to a higher level of autonomy.

The absence of the Scout Law from everyday camp life can be traced to the absence of the Law from the pre-camp staff training. While much time was spent on laying out an elaborate array of rules for the staff to follow, none was spent on talking about the Law, what it means, and how to use it with the campers. Given that the Scout Law sits at the centre of the Scout Method, this is a major area of potential improvement.

2. Learning by Doing
This is perhaps the easiest to understand of the seven elements of the Scout Method. Learning by doing means trying out new experiences for oneself and developing skills in real situations. For example, one does not talk much about how to paddle a canoe, but one gives opportunities for the Scouts to try, with guidance from the Scouter. As well, trying out canoeing is not done so that one can demonstrate one's paddling skills to a panel of judges, but so that one can go on a canoe trip. Every Scouting activity should be as close to reality as possible, but sized so that it fits the child (WOSM 1998:21).

In Leadership Camp programs, the Scouts should be given every opportunity for taking responsibility for their own leadership and for solving their own problems.

Camp's programs should try to provide a rich array of varied activities and new experiences for the campers. Rock climbing, boating, hiking, a swamp walk, archery, fire lighting, and other activities are all things that cannot be experienced in the city. As one bends to look closer at a marsh plant, one is learning first hand about the world.

3. Team System
The team system in the Scout Method is designed to bring Scouts of similar age together to live, solve problems, and play together. Being in such a micro-society forces the Scout to notice how their actions effect others and gives opportunities for the development of conflict resolution skills and other group skills. In order for a team system to be effective, the teams (or Patrols / Six) must have real responsibilities in the operation of their program (WOSM 1998:25).

Instead of what is common found in other organisational structures, which group their teams with the same aged youths. The team system, is designed to work with groups of young people of varied ages, within an age corridor of three or four years (WOSM 1998:30). Consistent teams should form the basis for most of the activities in camps, so that the campers would have to work out their differences for themselves. Responsibility for solving conflicts is placed on the members of the team and the team leader, who they select from among themselves. Planning, such as planning the menus for out-trips, should all be done in the teams.

4. Symbolic Framework
The symbolic framework in the Scout Method is intended to make Scouting activities more appealing to the young people and more effective as they build upon the child's imagination. A symbolic framework also provides a sense of identity for the individual, and a sense of solidarity for the group (WOSM 1998:33). The most obvious example of symbolic framework within Scouting is the jungle theme for Cub Scouts.

From a symbolic interactionist perspective, symbolic framework is a formalization of a process that happens naturally within a society. In a society, things are given meaning by the people and this meaning greatly effects how people think about and treat a given thing. Scouting's educational purpose would fail if the meanings that the kids attached to its messages were negative. In order to avoid the attachment of negative meanings, Scouting provides a set of meanings for its messages. The meanings are designed to be both attractive to the kids and consistent with Scouting's values.

The Cub Scout program, for example, is based around the theme of the jungle and the wolf pack. Children of Cub age are attracted by the story of the wolves. They are told that by becoming a Cubs, they can be part of this exciting story. This is the hook that draws them to Cub Scouting. Once they are there, the story is expanded to include the teaching of Scouting's values. Respecting and following the leadership of Akela (the leader of a pack) is necessary in the jungle stories for the pack to operate. If a child wishes to really be part of this story, they must also respect the Akela of their real life pack. Care must be taken when working with symbolic frameworks. All Scouters in a cub pack are given names of characters from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. In some packs, Scouters were given the name Shere-Kan. Shere-Kan in The Jungle Book is an antagonist who tries to lure Mogli away from what is right. Such a setup undermines the effectiveness of the educational environment.

Another example is a theme day. The theme might be Medieval Knights. The campers would be divided into clans which would work together to slay the evil dragon. Costumes, skits, and decorations are used to make the theme exciting for the campers. For the older campers, symbolic frameworks are used to enhance wide area games, such as capture the flag.

5. Nature
Nature in the Scout Method refers to the ideal setting in which to apply the Scout Method. Programs which operate in wooded areas, lakes, rivers, and other outdoor settings allow the Scout to experience their interdependence on other members of their team and on nature, and to experience the sense of awe and wonder about the cosmos. Living away from artificial environments allows people to get a perspective on these environments and to reflect upon what is really essential in life (WOSM 1998:41).

While for the most part one cannot avoid this element of the Scout Method when one's camp is located in the middle of the woods, there are some things that can be done to bring an artificial environment to the natural one, thus partially defeating the effectiveness of the Scout education. The most significant example of this is the use of recorded music, which can often be heard playing from councillors' tents in some school camps. In the city, one is constantly surrounded by noise of various sorts. Nature offers the opportunity to "hear" silence. In the silence, one's brain is open to new, deeper thoughts about the universe. Recorded music, particularly at night, removes this experience of silence.

6. Personal Progression
In the Scout Method, personal progression recognizes that learning is a process that takes time. There is improvement over time in one's capabilities. Progression is most noticeable in Scouting's progressive scheme, the set of badges that can be earned, which recognize development in various areas. A badge scheme gives the Scouts goals to strive for, makes learning appealing, and provides a sense of accomplishment when the badges are earned. (WOSM 1998:47).

7. Adult Support
The Adult Scouter is in a unique kind of educational relationship with the Scout. It is an educational partnership between the Scouter and the Scout. The Scouter balances friendship (to encourage and support) with responsibility (to keep everyone moving towards Scouting's educational objectives). In order to do this, the Scouter must be familiar with Scouting's educational system and must have a real interest in their Scouts (WOSM 1998:57).

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