Thanks for your posting regarding leadership as it pertains to training. We obviously see things from different perspectives. There is much in your information that I see as valid, but I believe you miss a key point. You stated, "So from 1910 to 1972, leadership development was a by-product of the patrol method." Leadership development is still a by-product of the patrol method. However, Scouting has found that teaching leadership skills to boys is a more efficient method of developing good leaders than relying solely on observation of other leaders in action.
My days of Scouting as a youth took place before the 1972 shift away from the traditional outdoor program of Scouting. My first tenure as a Scoutmaster began in 1980, so I missed much of the frustration from that period of "Urban Scouting." It is my position that it was not the change in leadership training that caused the downturn in membership, it was a loss of focus on the promise of Scouting. That promise of Scouting is adventure! Boys want adventure and they see adventure calling to them in the great outdoors.
You seem to feel that providing leadership training to boys is contrary to providing a quality Scouting program. Yet leadership training has been part of Scouting from the very beginning of the movement. Yes, how we train leaders has evolved and it will continue to evolve. Lord Baden-Powell said, "Scouting is a game with a purpose." It still is a game with a purpose and leadership is the legacy of that game with a purpose. It is so for me, my son and my grandson. That gives me something more than a "short horizon of reference" in my perspective.
As a Scoutmaster, when I helped my Scouts become better leaders, I relied on the leadership training provided by the Boy Scouts of America to help give my Scouts the skills needed to become better leaders. This training supplemented the direct guidance I gave my youth leaders and the observations they made of other leaders in action. The younger Scouts still observed these trained youth leaders in action as in your pre-1972 scenario. They just observed better leaders in action because their leaders had been given leadership training. I do not see teaching leadership training solely by observing leaders in action as a better or more efficient method of leadership training.
Watch the video clip of Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates where he tells how leadership training in Scouting was the only time in his life that he was actually taught how to lead others. This former Director of the CIA and now Secretary of Defense sees the leadership training he received in Scouting as important in his life. What kind of a leader would he be today if he only observed his patrol leader in action? http://ricksnews.pushies.com/Training/youth_leadership.htm
The National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) continues to use the patrol method to help leadership skills grow at the patrol level. If you have not served on staff for an NYLT course doing so may provide you with a new appreciation of the value of training youth leaders in Scouting. Training youth leaders in leadership skills makes better leaders.
Your position that the training of leaders is the cause of the downturn in Scouting membership could fit the few facts you present. However, I believe your conclusion is wrong, the cause is far greater in scope than you present. That is my opinion and we all know about opinions - every one has one!
Lord Bade-Powell said, "Every boy deserves a trained leader." Rick Pushies says, "Every Scout deserves to be trained as a leader."
Be good to yourself.
Yours Truly in Scouting,