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Re: [Scouter_T] Re: Valid methods for training delivery

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  • Alpvalsys@aol.com
    In a message dated 3/4/2008 10:52:44 A.M. EST, Corinna wrote:
    Message 1 of 30 , Mar 5, 2008
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      In a message dated 3/4/2008 10:52:44 A.M. EST, Corinna wrote:

      < For a new leader the classroom training is usually best. Besides skipping
      over information (self-study) or being distracted (online training), it's
      great to have Q&A and discussions. >

      At last night's District Committee meeting I mentioned that I've registered
      to take Youth Protection and SA/SSD training at our upcoming Institute of
      Scouting. Somebody asked why I'd signed up for them when on-line training is
      available. It's simple; I know I'll get more out of it in a classroom
      situation than I'll ever get sitting in front of the tube (which is when the
      District Commissioner made his comment about all the e-mails I forward to him
      <VBG>). Classroom training is a good refresher for us old timers, too.

      Ralph V. Balfoort, UC
      I used to be a beaver (NE III-135)
      In the Beaver Patrol as a Scout
      And still Ktemaque (Beaver) Chapter,
      Kittan Lodge #364, OA






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    • Dan Kurtenbach
      [Neil Lupton wrote:] I know of a trainer who runs an outstanding Boy Scout basic training course using the course guide from the 1990s. He refuses to change
      Message 2 of 30 , Mar 5, 2008
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        [Neil Lupton wrote:]
        I know of a trainer who runs an outstanding Boy Scout basic training course using the course guide from the 1990s. He refuses to change to the newer course guide. He requires 6 weekdays and a weekend. In terms of quality and of information given, the course is superb . . . He runs the course once per year and gets 10-15 people. There are probably 100-200 new leaders per year in his service area who need training.
        [/Neil]

        This reminds me of an episode of the television show "M*A*S*H." When Dr. Winchester first arrives, he is something of a perfectionist in the operating room. While the wounded are stacking up outside, he is making sure his stitches are neat.

        [Neil continued:]
        This is the dilemma and debate. Do we, as trainers, run training courses or do we get people trained?
        [/Neil]

        Scouts and parents aren't going to care _how_ Scoutmaster Tom learned his stuff; all that matters to them is that he learned it. It doesn't matter a bit to them if he is wearing a "Trained" strip -- that only matters to the folks who compile statistics. Which bottom line should we really be looking at?

        Dan Kurtenbach
        Fairfax, VA
      • gottshalld@aol.com
        Neil brings up several important questions and comments on a training course that I have helped staff for the past 10 years. First, Neil asks Who GOT those
        Message 3 of 30 , Mar 5, 2008
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          Neil brings up several important questions and comments on a training
          course that I have helped staff for the past 10 years.


          First, Neil asks "Who GOT those people to the training session?"

          The answer is that the trainee did. In our life of ever competing
          priorities, the trainee felt that the training was worth his time,
          money and effort. There is a difference between recruiting and
          promoting. Training committees promote their courses through council
          web site, district mailings, round table presentations, and providing
          an excellent training experience. Commissioners identify and recruit
          trainees through the rechartering process and unit visitation.

          As a trained unit leader, I encourage new leaders in my unit to make
          the time to take training for their position. I state unequivocally
          that the best possible BSA program can only be delivered by trained BSA
          leaders. Do you want to provide the best possible program for your
          son? If so, go get trained.


          Second, Neil asks "How 'bout the people that, for a variety of reasons,
          won't or can't go to the training class. What happens for them?"

          The answer is if they won't go, they have made a the decision, right or
          wrong, that class-based training was not worth their time. As has been
          discussed over the past several days, there are other modes of training
          that are more flexible from a logistical standpoint. These are
          mentoring and self-study. Is there a down side to these modes?
          Absolutely. You lose the group interaction and first-hand experiences
          of other leaders, both trainees and trainers. To a certain extent, you
          lose out on networking opportunities.

          The answer is if they can't go "to a particular course," other class
          opportunities should be made available. This can be done
          inter-district or inter-council. If they can't make those dates,
          mentoring and self-study are viable options.


          In our council, we provide both council-wide and district training
          opportunities. Training committees schedule, staff, promote, and
          prepare for these opportunities. They can be provided as stand-alone
          events both as local unit and as district-wide opportunities. They are
          provided at district round tables, and integrated into other district
          and council programs. I am sure that this is similar to most training
          programs. From this, we can see that training opportunities are not
          the problem.

          Neil is correct. Within my district, which serves 12 towns and a local
          Air Force base, we probably have 25 troops, which register about 400
          adults with a turnover of about 100 leaders each year. We are well
          below the National recommended number of unit commissioners for the
          number of units registered. Several of our district committees are
          "Committees of One or None." The district Boy Scout Training Committee
          has a standing committee of less than five, most holding significant
          unit leadership roles in addition to supporting the district.

          Some of those troops have close to 100% trained adults, many Wood Badge
          trained. Some have none. I have found that units come in two
          categories:

          - Unit thinks that training is critical to running a quality program.
          - Unit thinks that if training was that important, it would be required.

          Some of the latter units also have a culture of not participating in
          district or council program at all. They "do it on their own". The
          "Vanilla" Scoutmaster-Specific Training is offered twice a year within
          the council. The "Vanilla" Outdoor Leader Skills is offered once a
          year within the council. Over the past several years, these courses
          were canceled due to lack of interest or logistical issues. This makes
          it very difficult to fill upcoming Wood Badge courses.

          The course Neil spoke of entitled Scoutmaster Fundamentals Plus. It is
          provided as a district training course and is open to all adult leaders
          within the council. The course runs six evenings, a weekend, and a
          closing banquet. While the course is based upon a more historical
          format, the course content covers the current training continuum for
          the following training modules:

          Boy Scout Fast Start
          New Leader Essentials
          Boy Scout Specific Training
          Troop Committee Challenge
          Outdoor Leader Skills

          It relies heavily on the patrol method, with each participant having
          the opportunity to be a patrol leader and assistant patrol leader,
          participating in a PLC, and leading a patrol meeting. It provides
          background in small group dynamics (utilizing White Stag leadership
          competencies), develops "friendly" inter-patrol competition, and
          emphasizes the importance of a boy-led troop. It provides role-playing
          scenarios in areas of both adult and youth conflict resolution and the
          use of reflection as a tool.

          Hands-on scout skills development is provided in the following areas:

          Knots and Lashings
          Map and Compass
          First Aid
          Games

          Presentation skills are also reviewed and each participant selects,
          develops, and presents "real-life" skill instruction, with their own
          developed aids, to their patrol with each member providing feedback and
          evaluation.

          We are currently in Week Three of the course and have 19 participants
          and a staff of 10.

          A couple things to note:

          - Troops who attend the course have a tendency to keep coming back.
          Course evaluations note the "added value" of the course content.

          - Troops who attend the course encourage Cub Leaders from associated
          packs to attend. Course evaluations note the "big picture" perspective
          of the course.

          - Participants want to come back and staff the course because they had
          fun and see the staff having fun. On average, 20 % of the staff are
          new.

          - Staff provide "lifetime support" to participants. If participants
          have a question or a need, they can call their troop guides. We
          develop relationships over a two month period. This provides a level
          of trust and understanding not developed in a one-off course.

          The trainer that Neil calls out has served his unit, district, and
          council since long before its inception in 1993. He was a Scoutmaster
          for over 20 years. He successfully directed Council JLT for over a
          decade. He is 4-bead Wood Badger and two time Philmont Crew adviser.
          He has served a District Boy Scout Round Table Commissioner, Council
          Training Chair, District Training Chair, and developed and presented
          "Supplemental Training" before that was what it was called, including
          Low-Impact Camping. If commitment to excellence is "extreme", I guess
          both he and I are extreme ... extremely committed to making sure that
          unit leaders have the best possible chance to provide the best possible
          program.


          Scouting is about commitment. Commitment from the Chartered
          Organization to ensure quality adult leadership. Commitment from the
          Troop Committee Chairman to get trained and require training for his
          Scoutmaster. Commitment from the Scoutmaster to get trained and
          require training for his Assistants. Commitment from the Council and
          District to ensure quality adult leadership. Commitment from training
          committees to provide excellent training experiences.


          The frustration comes when some are willing pencil-whip 100 adults a
          year through "training" and consider it a success and that providing a
          tool box of resources for the ultimate Scout Adventure to 20 is
          considered a failure.


          As Harold says "Every boy deserves a trained leader." He is training
          20 now. Who will step up a train the next 20? We have open seats for
          as many as want to be trained in February 2009.

          Just my 2 cents ...

          Dave Gottshall
          Member - Flintlock District Training Committee
          Boston Minuteman Council
          Current Member of 2009 SMF+ Staff - "Laura's Leopards"
          Past Proud Scoutmaster of "Gottshall's Goats"
        • apatschin75
          Said I was gonna bow out, but am intrigued!!! You are running the old format with the new information? Tom Travis
          Message 4 of 30 , Mar 5, 2008
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            Said I was gonna bow out, but am intrigued!!!

            You are running the old format with the new information?

            Tom Travis
          • NeilLup@aol.com
            My colleague Dave Gottshall and I often don t see things the same. This is not in any way bad. He has presented the opposite side of the post which I made.
            Message 5 of 30 , Mar 5, 2008
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              My colleague Dave Gottshall and I often don't see things the same. This is
              not in any way bad.

              He has presented the opposite side of the post which I made. I hope that
              the listmembers here will read both posts and combine the information presented
              to improve training in their area.

              Best wishes,

              Neil Lupton


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            • Dan Kurtenbach
              [Dave Gottshall wrote:] The frustration comes when some are willing pencil-whip 100 adults a year through training and consider it a success and that
              Message 6 of 30 , Mar 5, 2008
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                [Dave Gottshall wrote:]
                The frustration comes when some are willing pencil-whip 100 adults a
                year through "training" and consider it a success and that providing a
                tool box of resources for the ultimate Scout Adventure to 20 is
                considered a failure.
                [/Dave]

                But again, missing the point. You're talking about which kind of training has more good stuff in it. Doesn't matter. Irrelevant. The elite, comprehensive course and the standard butt-in-chair course are equally ineffective for the leader who isn't there.

                As trainers in the Boy Scouts of America, our constituents are the Scouts whose adult leaders don't have the skills and information they need to do their jobs. Our mission is to reach and teach those leaders.

                Now, running a training course for leaders who are highly committed to learning is not exactly challenging, and, frankly, not particularly important. Those leaders will find out what they need to know, and pick up the skills they need to have, regardless of how good or how poor one particular training course is. Their Scouts are in good hands regardless.

                The challenge is reaching and teaching the leaders who can't or won't show up at a central location at an appointed hour, or who show up but don't really pay attention, or who don't do well with lecture-type training. Even if those leaders are too busy or work weekends or are lazy or learn better visually or think they don't need any stinking training, their Scouts -- our constituents -- still deserve good programs.

                Our standard of performance isn't how good our training courses are; it is whether we are serving those Scouts by reaching and teaching the leaders who need it.

                Dan Kurtenbach
                Fairfax, VA
              • gottshalld@aol.com
                Dan brings up two points that I would like to comment on: Dan says The challenge is reaching and teaching the leaders who can t or won t show up at a central
                Message 7 of 30 , Mar 6, 2008
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                  Dan brings up two points that I would like to comment on:

                  Dan says "The challenge is reaching and teaching the leaders who can't
                  or won't show up at a central location at an appointed hour, or who
                  show up but don't really pay attention, or who don't do well with
                  lecture-type training. Even if those leaders are too busy or work
                  weekends or are lazy or learn better visually or think they don't need
                  any stinking training, their Scouts -- our constituents -- still
                  deserve good programs."

                  As Neil, I, and others have noted previously, there are at least three
                  different training modes available: class training, mentoring, and
                  self-study. As part of district or council training committees, we can
                  and should promote all modes of training.

                  As a district trainer, for the vast majority of my responsibilities, my
                  constituents are adult unit leaders, not youth members. What we fail to
                  impart to those adult unit leaders is that their constituents, the
                  unit's youth, are being cheated of the best possible program through
                  their recalcitrance to participate in training; ANY mode of training.

                  IMHO, it is not the district trainers responsibility to chase down
                  those who choose not to be trained. It is our responsibility to provide
                  the best available training experience possible and to promote all
                  modes of training. It is the responsibility of unit commissioners to
                  remind units of the importance of training and to provide information
                  regarding training opportunities. It is the responsibility of the IH,
                  COR, and CC to "make" training a part of the unit leaders required
                  tasks to ensure that the best possible program is being provided to the
                  unit's youth.

                  Dan also says "Our standard of performance isn't how good our training
                  courses are; it is whether we are serving those Scouts by reaching and
                  teaching the leaders who need it."

                  To the first part of this statement, I strongly disagree. As a district
                  trainer, we provide opportunities for training. That training needs to
                  be the BEST it can be. It needs to be engaging, informative, and
                  entertaining. At the end of each course, participants should leave with
                  the realization that BSA training is worth the time, money, and effort.
                  They need to go back to their unit talking about what they learned and
                  how it will help them make THEIR unit better. If course training is not
                  an option, then another mode can be utilized.

                  We know all adult leaders need training, whether they know it or not.
                  We know every unit will benefit from having trained adult leaders. We
                  also know that we can not make adult leaders take training. They must
                  to want to be trained.

                  As far as standards go, metric measure what you design them to measure.
                  For BSA training, attendance is almost meaningless. As Dan noted, adult
                  leaders that are coerced into attending training get a card and little
                  more. The bottom line is successful boy-led units, more time than not,
                  have WELL trained leaders. Those leaders know the value of quality
                  training.

                  Just my two cents ... your mileage may vary

                  Dave Gottshall
                  Flintlock District Training Committee
                  Boston Minuteman Council
                • Dan Kurtenbach
                  In a thoughtful post, Dave Gottshall outlines one philosophical view of our role as trainers: IMHO, it is not the district trainers responsibility to chase
                  Message 8 of 30 , Mar 6, 2008
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                    In a thoughtful post, Dave Gottshall outlines one philosophical view of our role as trainers:

                    "IMHO, it is not the district trainers responsibility to chase down
                    those who choose not to be trained. It is our responsibility to provide
                    the best available training experience possible and to promote all
                    modes of training. It is the responsibility of unit commissioners to
                    remind units of the importance of training and to provide information
                    regarding training opportunities. It is the responsibility of the IH,
                    COR, and CC to "make" training a part of the unit leaders required
                    tasks to ensure that the best possible program is being provided to the
                    unit's youth."

                    At the same time, Dave notes a big caveat:

                    "For BSA training, attendance is almost meaningless. As Dan noted, adult
                    leaders that are coerced into attending training get a card and little
                    more."

                    In essence, _this_ philosophy of the trainer's role is: We can only help the ones who affirmatively come to training with a genuine desire to learn. We can promote training, we can try to convince leaders to come out for training, we can urge them to get everything out of it that they can, but in the end, it is up to them.

                    That sounds reasonable.

                    But what about the rest? What about all those other leaders out there? Sad -- but not our problem, right? We wring our hands, and ask "How can we get these people to training?" all the while knowing that we can't, or that for many of them, it wouldn't matter anyway.

                    This is why I think this view is fundamentally flawed. We should not just write off a large percentage of our leadership corps. For the sake of their Scouts, we should not write them off. If our job is just to teach the easy ones, the ones who would get out and learn what they need to know anyway, then we aren't making much of a contribution to Scouting.

                    I don't think the question should be "How can we get these people to training?" I think it should be "How can we get training to these people?" That's not a job for UCs or CORs or IHs. We're the trainers. It's our job.

                    Dan Kurtenbach
                    Fairfax, VA
                  • Dan Kurtenbach
                    I would just like to expand a little bit on my last comments on this issue. I concluded that post with: I don t think the question should be How can we get
                    Message 9 of 30 , Mar 7, 2008
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                      I would just like to expand a little bit on my last comments on this issue. I concluded that post with: "I don't think the question should be 'How can we get these people to training?' I think it should be 'How can we get training to these people?' That's not a job for UCs or CORs or IHs. We're the trainers. It's our job."

                      The design of our current training system fails, what, 25%, 40%, even 60% [?] of our Scout leaders either completely or to a significant degree because it makes no provision for those who do not seek out training or those who don't have a willingness to learn. And yes, I understand the counter-argument that it is really those leaders who are failing -- both themselves and their Scouts -- by not taking advantage of training. Granted. But that doesn't change the fact that those "training failures" are out there in large numbers leading Scouts, having poor programs, causing some boys to leave Scouting and other boys to not join. Our object has to be to reduce those numbers.

                      Our current system is built on the notion that "Training" offers leaders something that they can't get anywhere else.

                      However, all the knowledge and skill that a Scouter needs (and far more than he could get in any training course) is all around him or her already. It is in publications he already has on hand or that are easily accessible: The Boy Scout Handbook, the Scoutmaster Handbook, the Fieldbook, the Troop Committee Guide, the Wilderness Training Manual, etc., etc. It is out on the Internet in more forms than can possibly be counted. And all of that "real world" experience, and the contacts with other Scouters that are touted as the main advantages of "live" training courses? Well, those same people are already all around, too. They are at Roundtable and Camporees and Merit Badge clinics, and maybe in a Scouter's own unit. It is all there; and a lot of it is available "on demand" for those folks who like their information delivered "just in time."

                      What Training attempts to do is synthesize, summarize, prioritize, and analyze selected pieces of that information, put it in context, and provide the Scouter with an (at least rudimentary) understanding of how it is all supposed to work, what is important, and what he or she is supposed to do. A good training course can do that, and do it very, very well, for a Scouter who is open to the experience. We also know that we have a lot of mediocre and marginal training courses out there that don't provide much help even to the willing Scouter, and we have a lot of Scouters who attend training courses but aren't really engaged regardless of how good the course is.

                      Thus it isn't the training course that people need; the training course is just a vehicle. Rather, it is the right skill, the right knowledge, the right experience, and the right understanding that people need. How leaders get the right skill, the right knowledge, the right experience, and the right understanding is pretty much irrelevant. What matters is that they get it. A good training course can do it for a willing Scouter. I see our challenge as finding ways to do it for everyone else.
                      I think the place to start, for each leadership position, is to ask: What does this leader need to know, and when does he/she need to know it? I think that with that information, we can then begin to understand the learning needs of every leader from the very beginning of the leadership lifecycle. From there, we can begin to figure out how to get the needed skill, knowledge, experience, and understanding to that leader at or before the time he/she needs it.

                      And you know, that doesn't require any changes at all to how we currently do training. So, the folks who think our mission is simply to put on good training courses can continue right on doing what they are doing, the folks who think we have other obligations can do what they need to do, and neither group will get in the other's way.

                      Dan Kurtenbach
                      Fairfax, VA
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