Getting a handle on how to help a group of scouts lead themselves is perplexing. When I started as Scoutmaster, I did not know the history or culture of this troop and how we got where we are. Additionally, their personalities were a mystery to me; I did not have a prior history with these scouts or more than a couple of their parents. With so much ignorance on my part I was bound to be baffled. The fact is, I still do not know the factors that shaped the culture of this troop. My familiarity with the parents remains largely unchanged. And, to a large degree, I remain baffled.
Maybe one quality of a adult “scouters” is an ability to work for good in the midst of perplexity? Think of it, the scout who starts a term as Senior Patrol Leader scarcely knows himself much less has the experience and skill of a proven leader. Indeed, the whole point of being an SPL, in my view, is to gain the skills and the experience. He, and the troop, are a work in progress; a writhing mass of physical and emotional contradictions carried out in the larger context of teen age. Yikes! How, then, can a scoutmaster have a firm grasp on what to do?
At times I envy professional educators. Besides the depth of training they have received they possess many concrete resources of which a curriculum is key. Think about it, a well defined curriculum serves as a road map to learning with a clearly defined destination. To be fair that is an overly simplified understanding of a curriculum. Indeed, most educators I know are engaged in something called “differentiated instruction”. That’s the term applied to the idea that students are persons and tend to have unique learning needs. In other words a curriculum cannot be a mold into which every student is squeezed (or crushed). As I understand it, curriculum is descriptive not prescriptive.
Right now, and strangely, I find myself thinking of the “Pirate Code”. “… code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl…” When it comes to teaching, guiding scouts, working with “persons” it may be best to accept that some measure of perplexity is inevitable.