Questions Grow Leaders

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I have sat through troop youth leadership training. The scout has delivered. A scouter has delivered the training. There have been PowerPoint presentations. There have been no computers or projectors in sight. I have seen discussions on the back of a napkin. I have heard lectures. I have seen leaders say nothing.

All of these have one thing in common. They all have had little impact on improving the quality of the scouts’ leadership skills.

I have seen miraculous improvements in a scout’s leadership skills in the flash of a moment. I have seen steady improvement of leadership over a period of time. These have some things in common. They have engaged the scout’s own thinking.

Flashes of improvement tend to happen when a scout or scoutmaster ask just the right question at just the right moment. “Should we be standing out here in the open, when there is thunder crashing?” The scout leader often has this momentary look of “Why didn’t I think of that?” before he begins giving concrete and clear instructions. The leadership often continues well run for a 30 minutes because there is a clear mission in the scout’s mind.

The long steady improvements tend to happen most when the scout asks lots of questions either of his scoutmaster and fellow scouts or he reads. He reads his Patrol Leader Handbook, the Scout Handbook, or resources online. He may face questions or concerns from his fellow patrol leaders at the nightly PLC. No matter where the questions are focused, he is introducing new concepts into his thinking and experimenting with the ideas in practice. The more he introduces questions to himself if small, orderly doses, the faster his growth.

Clarke Green often questions the value of PowerPoints and lectures for boys. Clarke suggest only teaching the scout what he needs at that moment. He will retain more. This makes sense.

Boy Scouts is experiential learning. It is kinesthetic learning. If 80% of the world get its information visually and 15% gets the information aurally (through the ears), the remaining 5% gets the information kinesthetically (in motion).  Yet the lessons learned and kept are weakest when heard, second by being seen. We learn best in motion. We learn more about what we write down in our notes than what we type. We learn more still if we do the skill.  Which works better attempting to tie a bowline or write notes about the bowline tying method?

Get the boy leader to face questions from his PLC. If the PLC doesn’t raise the question, the scoutmaster can prompt it, then walk away.

Questions spark growth more than lectures.