Six Principles of Boy-Work




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Six Principles of Boy-Work
Grouping Standards
Scout Examinations

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Several well-defined and exceedingly clear principles of action underlie the successful handling of groups of boys:--

1) First, there must be a clear plan well thought out, progressive in its stages with an aim for each stage.  In other words no man need try to work with a group of boys unless he knows what he wants to do, not only in outline but in detail.   He must have these details in mind and so well worked out in his thought, knowing exactly what comes next and just what is to be added to that which he has already accomplished, as to be master of the situation at all times and to be the recognized leader.  Not only this, but the boys must feel that he really knows what he is driving at in everything that he attempts.

2) Secondly, before the leader of a group of boys tries to do anything with the group, if he is to be successful, it is necessary for him to make frank outlined statement of his plan.  That is to say, he should tell the boys what the game is and how it is to be played, getting their approval, and agreement to get in on the deal.   He can explain this to all of the boys at one time or singly to each boy.   There is no question but that he  will succeed best if he should go over the matter first with each individual boy personally, finding out the individual impressions, and also having discussion before the group or patrol unit.  This being done the boys know the plan, the leader knows what he is working towards, and the leader and the boys are partners in the work.  In this way the right idea of Scouting will be given to the boys and they will understand just what it means.  Too often groups of boys are brought together and the aim is so hazy in the leader's mind that all the boys can possibly see in the scheme is a "good time."  No Scout Master who fails to hold up before the boys a clear, comprehensive statement of Scouting that the boy can understand, can ever hope to see his boys do anything else but look for fun and mischief in everything they do.  Such a patrol or troop cannot last very long because the Scout Master will very soon be asking himself if the thing that he is attempting is worth the trouble to which he is going.

Application of Self-Government.

3)  Thirdly, the best way to have boys accomplish things is to allow them to do the things.  Many a leader of boys thinks out a plan, gives it to a group of boys and then thinks that the boys are themselves doing it, whereas he is only trying to use the boys as his instrument.  The most effectual way of getting boys to do things themselves is to let them do as much as they can and will do under adequate supervision. Lead by suggestion, so that unconsciously the boys follow your advice and dictation, giving them the benefit of their decisions and impulses.  Pure self-government in which the boys are entirely the dictators of their policies and activities can not be thought of because such a course is so generally fatal to successful development.  But self-government fostered and dealt with through suggestion by the adult mind is just what is needed, and should always be encouraged.

The Scout Master as a Real Leader.

4) Fourth, in letting the boys run their own affairs in this way, the Scout Master must become a real leader.  A real leader never stalks in front, nor gives orders openly.  The generals of today fight their battles and win them twenty-five miles in the rear of the firing line.  So it is with the Scout Master.   He must be the power behind the throne, rather than the throne itself.  He must be as a conscience -- to hold the boys back just a little when they go too fast and push just a little when they are going too slow.  The Scout Master must recognize himself to be the impetus, not the goal.  The solution of each problem that comes before a patrol or troop should not only be considered by the whole group, but should be solved by the boys whenever such  action will not interfere with the best interests of the group and the movement.  The important thing for the Scout Master to remember in these matters is that his fundamental objective is good citizenship and that the method of practical American citizenship is the majority rule.  But this boy majority rule should, of course, be tempered by governing leadership.  Thus the Scout Master will not do anything that the boy can do himself, and he will be continually placing responsibility on the lad.  Responsibility is the great maker of men.

Differences, "Scraps" and Misunderstandings.

5) Fifth there will be of course noticeable differences among the boys of the patrol and troop.  The most serious differences arise even among man.  The boys will "scrap" at times, and there will sometimes be a tension and rigidity about their discussions that will approach the breaking point.  Through it all it will be difficult for the Scout Master to keep himself patiently aloof and allow the thing   to work out its own way.  Sometimes an appeal will be make to him to settle the dispute, and he will be tempted to do so, but often such action will imperil the object for which he is working.  It is best to allow the boys to discuss, and try our all of their logic before he begins to make suggestions and, if he can get the boys to settle the matter themselves, it is to he interest to do so.  If a deadlock threatens to exist, then by wise counsel and judicious suggestions he may be able to lead the boys our of a quandary in such a way that it will look as if the boys had gotten out of the difficulty themselves.  This will certainly add strength to their organization and they will settle their own quarrels with peace and dignity.  Sometimes the break between the boys will be so bitter as to cause the formation of intensely hostile factions, and then the best thing the Scout Master can do is not to try any patching or drawing together of the opposing forces.  There is no use trying to make boys who are bitterly antagonistic, agreeable to each other.  Let them make new alignments if necessary and in combinations of their own choosing, even if the result should be the formation of new patrols.

Rules and Infringements of Rules.

6) Sixth, the boys should make their own rules and provide for the infringement of minor rules. insofar as such action will not be a harm or a hindrance.   Boy punishments meted out by boys to boys sounds will enough in theory but does not prove efficient in practice, and should by all means be discouraged or forbidden.   The danger of an  excessive tendency toward unreasonable action or decisions by the boys is too great.  But wherever possible the boys should have a hand in the making of the laws which govern them.  Responsibility should be the key-note; and the awakening of such a feeling in the boys should be the goal.

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.