Teaching the Scouting Way

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As ever, Clarke Green brings us another lesson from Lord Baden-Powell’s writings. This time a wonderful lesson in how to teach without a lesson plan.

B-P makes some comments on the type of volunteers he seeks in scouters. He then starts talking about an impressive schoolmaster (note the term’s similarity to “scoutmaster”):

Yesterday I was talking with our village schoolmaster, a true educationist, by the way. He was explaining some of his methods which had rather raised the hair of an old-time school inspector, but which, in principle, are much in accord with our methods in Scout training.

Take one of his cases as an example. A girl was hopeless at arithmetic, so he had a talk with her, and asked her which of the school subjects she liked best. “Oh, cooking.” And which she liked least. “Arithmetic.”

“Well,”– very confidentially– “don’t tell anyone, but it is just the same with me. I don’t like arithmetic, either. And now, talking of cooking, how would it be if instead of the arithmetic lesson today you cooked a tea for two, with some good scones and a cake, and we can have it together. You order the necessary ingredients, but don’t make it too expensive.” This idea she joyfully carried out. The following day he said– “That tea was a huge success. Can you manage to cook another, on a larger scale, say for five, to which we can ask some pals?” It was duly and enthusiastically done.

The result was that in working out her quantities, prices, etc., the girl had all unconsciously had her arithmetic lesson. Interested in her job, and proud of being trusted with the responsibility put upon her, she was not only learning arithmetic but was realising its practical use at the same time.

It is on this same principle that the Scoutmaster, through the medium of Scouting items which interest the boy, inculcates such qualities as he wants. He educates the boy by encouraging his self  — expression instead of disciplining him by police methods of repression.

Too many times, I see scoutmasters that wish to offer classes or push Merit Badge Universities. I teach at such classes. Even so, I try to emphasize the role of the boy in talking. I try to ask questions so that the boys become the lecturers. When I teach on different types of countries, their governments, and economies, the boys talk about their previously researched countries. I ask questions to encourage them to compare the different governments.

But what lessons can we teach our scouts that are more like the schoolmaster in B-P’s story?