Programming

Secrets to Eva’s Success and Lessons for Scouting

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The secret of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy” in the New York Post tells the story of a charter school system in New York. It tells how the school has inner city kids performing well on standardized tests and grades.

Success Academy breeds success: Its inner-city students outperformed every other school district in the state in the 2017 exams. And one big secret to that success has been the application of the kinds of tactics and strategies that helped bring the city back from the brink more than once — this time, applied to education.

Both “broken windows” policing and Success Academy schooling target minor infractions that create a culture of chaos.

Writing about dealing with disruptive students in 2006-07, Success Academy’s first year, Moskowitz notes that when teachers are unable to stop even one student’s incessant misbehavior, it “can have a domino effect . . . and soon the teacher is playing whack-a-mole rather than teaching.”

That meant imposing “cultural expectations” on the classroom, which soon developed into a barometer Moskowitz calls “culture data.” Standardized test scores can only tell you so much so quickly. But monitoring “latenesses, absences, uniform infractions, missing homework, incomplete reading logs, and whether our teachers were calling parents about these problems” can serve as a “canary in a coal mine.”

It also manifested in instruction styles that required the kids to pay attention in class — such as randomly calling on students to respond to other students’ answers during a lesson — rather than just hoping they absorbed the information and then testing them to find out.

Consistent standards are also key. Unlike union-dominated schools, Moskowitz’s charters could fire bad teachers and administrators, ensuring those standards are applied evenly.

* * *

She explains: “Excellence is the accumulation of hundreds of minute decisions; it is execution at the most granular level. Once you accept the idea that you should give in to things that make no sense because other people do those things and you want to appear reasonable, you are on a path towards mediocrity.”

In scouting, we are not trying to be data hounds or playing BigBrother to make sure all is well with our scouts. But even laying aside the data, there are insights we can learn from this story.

If a scout regularly misses campouts, what does that tell us about the scout’s experience in scouting? What is that scout’s absence on his fellow scouts? Is it reasonable for a scout to miss a campout because he doesn’t “find it interesting”? If a parent accepts this complaint from the scout, what should the Cubmaster or Scoutmaster do in response?

These details matter. Not every scout can participate in every event, meeting, or outing. The Guide to Advancement makes clear that a scout can be considered “active” in his unit without attending anything for months on end.

But there is huge difference between having a conflicting schedule or homework load that prevents regular attendance and a scout who does not want to go on the outing or come to a meeting because he would rather play video games that weekend.

Part of the solution is setting the expectation with parents about what the benefits of participating are and how they should handle a scout who wants to skip certain trips. A well-trained parent understands that the scout has an obligation to his patrol and to his troop even in his absence. He needs to make sure that he is getting his scout duties done. Missing the outing should not be treated as an excuse to skip scouting duties. If he is a patrol leader, he still has responsibilities to his patrol to be organized for the trip and to assure his proxy is prepared for the outing. He needs to assure that the patrol scribe is communicating with his patrol regularly and accurately.

In some respects holding scouts accountable for their duties when they don’t attend outings or events is one of the biggest life lessons we can offer in scouting. (The same can be said for adult leaders, too.)

A similar one is the expectation that membership means participation in events that may not be anticipated to light their fire. Packs and troops should set high expectation that membership means participation when no scheduling or homework conflicts exist.

Set high standards for your unit. Then look forward to being delighted with the results.

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John Cleese on Stupidity

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John Cleese is one of the best observers and commentators on the human condition. He is deep and funny simultaneously. I disagree with his world view and some of his conclusions that arise from his observations. Nevertheless his observations are keen.

In this short clip, he focuses on people who don’t know that they are stupid. Very funny insights.

But let’s take that a bit deeper than just a look at stupidity. At the 0:25 mark, he quotes a professor, “In order to know how good you are at something, requires exactly the same skills as it takes to be good at thing in the first place.” Is this a true statement? In part, yes; in part, no. Let’s start from his premise that a “stupid person” doesn’t know he is stupid.

When my son was in preschool, we were sitting at the dining room table one night. I commented about an event of the day, “That is so stupid.” My son piped in, “Daddy said the S-word.” My wife and I stared at each other trying to recall if I had said the four letter word or not. My wife quickly recovered and asked, “What word was that?” My son look horrified at the prospect of repeating the forbidden word. After some coaxing and reassurance that he would not get in trouble, he proclaimed the S-word as “stupid.” He explained that at preschool two of the boys called everyone “stupid” so often, the teacher had told the kids to repeat “Don’t say ‘stupid’!” every time they heard the forbidden word.

So borrowing this preschool lesson, let’s change Cleese’s very funny use of the S-word to something more prosasic. Using more diplomatic language, we can translate that to “an inexperienced and uninformed person.” What does the translation do to our understanding of the professor’s point, “In order to know how good you are at something, requires exactly the same skills as it takes to be good at thing in the first place.”

Do I need to be as good at basketball as Michael Jordan or LeBron James to understand how good they are? I don’t need to be as good as they are to know that they could dribble around me or shoot over me without thinking twice. I may need to be as good to know how they get around me so easily. A coach like Brad Stevens can probably explain what these players can do better than the players can. The players know what it feels like to do it. A great coach can see what it looks like and  have others approach those skills through practice what the greats do through instinct and experience born of hard work.

Do I need to be as good a physicist as Einstein to know that his insights into the universe are powerful? No, but I do need to be a good physicist to see how he reached those conclusions with so little available or existing knowledge. A good professor can explain what Einstein did even if the professor cannot make the intuitions and mathmatical proofs from scratch that Einstein did.

As either a basketball player or a physicist, I can probably increase my appreciation for the skills displayed by these men by increasing my knowledge about what they did. As a teacher, I can study the greats and learn to explain the intuitive insights that others reach.

What does that teach us in our scouting endeavors? New parents and scouts are not in a good position to describe what they don’t know or to instantly understand what we are doing in scouting. The boys tend to come to understand through experiencing the program. They can sense when things are working well, but they can’t explain it to their parents.

So, now you face a frustrated parent that wants to know why his boy is not advancing faster. Why are you not holding classes. Why are you not having the boys sit down and be quiet. Why the meetings are so loud and chaotic.

You need to be the Coach Stevens or professor. You need to be able to explain that good scouting is not in classroom and is not based on being quiet. It is active and boisterous. Yet at the other end of the process come contemplative and respectable men. You need to have a sense of what Baden Powell sought for scouting to be.

Good scouting requires study from its leaders. It requires training to get the basics. It requires experience to get the subtleties. It requires advanced training and reading to learn to articulate the philsophy well and timely as issues arise.

An untrained and inexperienced leader is an asset to the unit because he can be present with his son. A leader who seeks training and experience is a boon to her unit because she can identify successes and failures and elicit insights from her scouts. The trained and experienced leader promotes scouts’ self discovery and fosters in the scouts a desire to learn.

Coming back to John Cleese, an untrained leader does not know they are not offering the best possible program to his son and his friends. He doesn’t know what he is missing.

Make sure that your unit leaders are trained online using ScoutingU (accessed through my.scouting.org) and make sure that your scoutmaster and assistant scoutmaster attend the in-person training for Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills. Your trained leaders may not have all the answers, but they will ask better questions and be well on their way to being a better coach and teacher.

Rechartering Outline Updated

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District Commissioner has revised the Rechartering Update page on this website in anticipation of the new Rechartering season.

Dates, times, and locations of rechartering turn-ins have been posted. Please make sure that your unit’s chair and/or the rechartering champion have placed these dates on their calendars. If they cannot make it, they may ask another person to attend in their place.

Please be advised no turn-ins at the Council Registrar window will be accepted. Those will be put in the inter-office mail and sent to the District Executive. This delays processing of your Application to Recharter.

Please be advised that scouters without a current YPT expiration will prevent your Application for Recharter from printing your finalized roster. This is new for October 2017. Work on YPT now so that you can complete recharter turn in on time.

Service Hours Reporting Update

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Last year (2016), North Star District reported 13,343 service hours. To date in 2017, North Star has reported only 3,567 service hours.

Thank you to those units that have exceeded 2016 service hours reports:

  1. Crew 408 (Zionsville American Legion)
  2. Pack 358 (Zionsville Christian)
  3. Troop 69 (Trader’s Point Christian Church)
  4. Troop 269 (St Andrew’s Presbyterian)
  5. Troop 358 (St Alphonsius RCC)

These troops serve as wonderful examples to our district and council.

Honorable mentions for reporting service hours at least once this year (but have not yet exceeded last year’s numbers and are rarely close), go to the following units:

  1. Pack 105 (Zionsville American Legion)
  2. Troop 56 (St Luke’s UMC)
  3. Troop 174 (Immaculate Heart of Mary RCC)
  4. Troop 180 (St Richard’s School)
  5. Troop 343 (Pike Twp Fire Dept, meeting at Bethel UMC)
  6. Troop 512 (First Meridian Heights Presbyterian)
  7. Troop 514 (St Monica’s RCC)
  8. Troop 804 (Zionsville American Legion).

All other units need to be reviewing their service hour reports because council has no information on file for 2017.

For more information on reporting service hours, see this 2015 article.

Free State Park Admission . . . with a catch

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From Council:

DNR News
Division of State Parks

Celebrate public lands with free entry and
program at DNR properties, Sept. 30

Admission to Indiana’s state park properties and state forest recreation areas where entrance fees are charged will be free on Sept. 30 in recognition of National Public Lands Day.

National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands.

Volunteer opportunities at Indiana State Park properties on Sept. 30 include trail work at Raccoon State Recreation Area, Turkey Run State Park and Brookville Lake, invasive plant removals at Brown County, Spring Mill and Ouabache state parks, and river cleanups at O’Bannon Woods and Tippecanoe River state parks. Many other properties will offer similar volunteer opportunities see attached list.

But National Public Lands Day isn’t all work and no play. The day is a reminder that public lands are places for outdoor recreation, conservation and making memories with families and friends. Properties will offer hikes, pioneer activities, crafts and live bird shows, too.

For complete list of programs, visit calendar.dnr.IN.gov  and look on Sept. 30.

For more information on National Public Lands Day, visit PublicLandsDay.org.

Jody Heaston
Indiana State Parks Volunteer Coordinator
Ouabache State Park,  4930 E. State Rd 201
Bluffton, IN 46714
Phone: 260-824-0926  Fax: 260-824-9402
Email: jheaston@dnr.in.gov (best way to contact)

Learn more about Indiana Master Naturalists www.indianamasternaturalist.org

On the Web: www.stateparks.IN.gov

They also offer the events listed in this flyer through the rest of the year.

Den Leader Training Report

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Last night, Thursday, September 14, 2017, at Cub Scout Roundtable, Roundtable Den Leader PatchCommissioner Bill Buchalter and District Chair John Wiebke led a Cub Scout Den Leader Training.

Thank you to the following Den Leaders who participated:

  1. Alaina McSherry (Pack 175, Christ the King RCC);
  2. Tyler Christman (Pack 18, Second Presbyterian);
  3. Alexandra Hoogestraat (Pack 747, St Richard’s School);
  4. Jay Lorentz (Pack 18, Second Presbyterian);
  5. Vince Biedron (Pack 175, Christ the King RCC);
  6. Jeffrey Hamilton (Pack 171, St. Luke’s RCC).

We received wonderful reviews on the quality of presentation that Bill and John gave. All participants were happy to share the experience in person rather than doing the training online through my.scouting.org. They felt better connected to the local scouting community and received ideas, such as taking Tiger Cubs to Holiday Park to let the park docents help the Tigers complete some of their advancement requirements.

Pack Committee Chairs, please encourage your Den Leaders to get trained. Den Leaders who train in person get a richer and more informative experience than the generic online experience. They will learn about local resources and be more likely to continue as Den Leaders, since they will feel part of something larger than themselves or their pack.

Remember training is required for all leaders as part of rechartering, which begins in less than 20 days!

September 2017 Eagle Report

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Congratulations to our September 2017 Eagles, who completed their Eagle Boards of Review on Wednesday, September 13, 2017:

Fall Camporee Planning Meeting

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Mark Pishon, the Fall Camporee chair, is hosting a meeting on Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 6:30 pm in St Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 West 86th St, Room N101, Indianapolis, IN 46260.

Please note that this is in the Main Building, Room N101. You must enter by Door #6, the door on the northwest corner of the building, but not quite the northernmost door. Upon entering the building, turn left; walk past the bathrooms and water fountain, toward the classroom (N101), to the immediate right of the Exit (Door #7).

All participants and attendees must sign Subaru’s liability release, available here. Release and Waiver Agreement.Boy Scout 2017.

Here is the current draft of the Camporee Leader Guidebook, subject to revision after the meeting: North Star Fall Camporee Leaders Guide V4 9_11_2017.

Save the Date: Scoutmaster/ASM IOLS Training

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North Star in cooperation Del-Mi District are running an Introduction to Outdoor scoutmaster patchLeadership Skills (“IOLS”) from Friday evening, October 27 to Sunday morning, October 29, 2017 at Camp Belzer. This is taking place concurrently with the Del-Mi District Camporee.

This training is required for all persons registered or registering as a scoutmaster and assistant scoutmaster through the Rechartering process. This training is now the only training that must be done in person.

assistant scoutmaster patchThis training session will be a great opportunity to have adults truly understand what makes the scout outdoor program so successful as a citizenship and character development program. You will have a chance to meet fellow scouters from around the Crossroads of America Council. You can experience the power of scouting first hand.

We will have a faculty composed of scouters from around the council who are very knowledgeable about the topics they address. Meeting these scouters will be worth your time, even if you have already taken the course at summer camp.

Save the date now and look at the Council calendar to reserve your spot when the sign up opens up near the end of September.

Scout Night with the Pacers

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Council has released information about Scout Night with the Pacers.Pacers night logo

For complete information, download the flyer here.