Scout method

Scout method

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.cite book | last = Baden-Powell | first = Robert | authorlink = Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell | url = | title = B.-P's Outlook | pages = October, 1913] Thereby Scouts will become "healthy, happy, helpful citizens"cite book | last = Baden-Powell | first = Robert | authorlink = Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell | year = 1926 | title = Scouting for Boys | pages = p331]

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.cite book | last = Baden-Powell | first = Robert | authorlink = Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell | url = | title = B.-P's Outlook | pages = November, 1921] 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 its founder Robert Baden-Powell the Scout methods 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 method was the higher aim of Scouting, so was compulsory, but the local leader had to judge for himself how to apply the method to be successful in his own particular troop. By decentralisation he therefore got a free hand. The principles of the method were a target, so it did not matter so much whether ideals were actually achieved, as long they were high.cite book | last = Baden-Powell | first = Robert | authorlink = Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell | year=1919 | url = | title = Aids to Scoutmastership, World Brotherhood Edition | format = PDF | publisher = The National Council Boy Scouts of Canada | accessdate = 2007-01-07] rp|25 Although the method is nowadays equally applicable to boys and girls in Scouting, one must take into account that the original principles were designed for boys in the Scout-age. The first condition for Scouting is an attractive game, but hidden in this game should be an educational goal. The game must be exciting, but at the same time a Scout should learn from it. The Scout game can be changed by the local leader to what he finds is attractive in his Troop and in its time.cite book | last = Baden-Powell | first = Robert | authorlink = Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell | year = 1933 | url = | title = Lessons from the Varsity of Life, Chapter X | format = htm | work = | publisher = | accessdate = 2007-01-07] There should be no preaching.rp|5

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:cite web | year = 1998 | url = | title = Scouting: An Educational System | format = PDF | publisher = World Organization of the Scout Movement | accessdate = 2007-01-13 | pages = p. 19]

Law and promise

* 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 (a higher power, not only the Christian 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.rp|31 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 but 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 law and promise.
* Good turns. The good turn is a key component of the law and promise, 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.rp|36, 64, 65

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-Powells writings).

Team system

* 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.rp|18 These patrols are therefore more important than the Troop. Patrols must be kept intact under all circumstances, which means working, tenting, learning, cooking, so surviving together.rp|49 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.rp|24 Still Scouting deals with the individual, not with the Company.rp|21, 15 A Scout has his own identity within the group and learns as an individual. The Patrol serves as the characterschool for the individual.rp|24 Younger sections, such as Cub Scouts and Beaver Scouts, are also divided into sixes (Cubs) or lodges (Beavers). While Beaver lodges have no leader structure within them, Cub sixes have a sixer and seconder.
* Honour Court or Patrol Leaders' Council (PLC). The Scout patrols are subject to an Honour Court, formed by the Patrol leaders along with the Scout leader as advisor. This is a peer system in which Scouts discuss each other behaviour and is part of the Self-governing.

ymbolic framework

* Imagination. Scouting plays on the imagination of the Scout, who loves to "make-believe", like living in the imaginative world of adventurers, like backwoodsmen, pioneers, sailors and airmen.rp|21 It is a non-serious world, taken seriously, as 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 build 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.cite book | last = Baden-Powell | first = Robert | authorlink = Robert Baden-Powell | coauthors = | year = 1930 | url = | title = Rovering to Success | pages = 22 | publisher = | accessdate = | accessyear = , ] Scouting teaches self-reliance by bringing the Scouts into a challenging, so 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."rp|32, 15
* 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 come 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.rp|24, 32
* 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.rp|16, 60
* 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 (first Class) test for the (Boy/Girl) Scout/Guide section is making a journey by its own, proving his or her 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.cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 2007 | url = | title = The RAP User's Guide | format = PDF | work = | publisher = World Organization of the Scout Movement | accessdate = 2007-07-26 p. 119-121 ] . :Badges were not a final goal, but a first step, which gives a Scout encouragement.rp|56-57 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.rp|331 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 build 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.rp|28
* Individual. Education in Scouting is individual, because every Scout must be inspired, even the clumsy ones, 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 as "the amount of effort the Scout puts into his work." The standards were therefore purposely not clearly defined.rp|28


*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 Baden-Powell the Scout could find God in Nature when he realised the complexity and beauty in Nature.
*Love of outdoors. Although Scouts like Nature as an adventurous place and rather like to cut a tree than to preserve it, it is expected that when he gets older the experience from his youth will make him a nature-lover.

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.rp|4, 38
* 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 commander Officer, but rather that of an elder brother among his boys, not detached or above them individually, able to inspire their efforts and to suggest new diversions when his finger on their pulse told 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.cite web | year = 2005 | url = | title = Constitution Booklet | format = PDF | publisher = World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts | accessdate = 2007-09-15 | pages = Article 6b]

ee also

*Scout Spirit
*Educational progressivism


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