Nine Methods




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Methods of Scout Instruction

The methods of instruction listed below are arranged approximately in the order of their interest appeal to boys. Games head the list and Book Study brings up the rear!

This does not mean that Book Study, Lectures, and Recitations are not to be used. They have a real value in perfecting and completing knowledge of a given subject.

Each subject should be introduced as attractively as possible. Let the boy learn the elements of each subject through Play, Competition, Dramatization, and Experiment. He will absorb knowledge unconsciously and his interest will be gripped. Then, make his knowledge definite, using the more formal methods of instruction.

The Nine Methods


Many good games also give instruction in Scouting. For example, " Hare and Hounds " (see Handbook for Boys), is perhaps the best method of teaching tracking.


Competition against time, against each other, and between teams may be utilized in practicing most of the Scout requirements. If no other kind of contest can be imagined, it is always possible to have a competitive "quiz:" 

Competitive Method for Teaching Bandaging.

C. F. Smith, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Scouts are paired off, each pair has one triangular bandage. Instructor demonstrates head bandage slowly. Then, "Do it with Me." He repeats bandage, step by step, Scouts following. Then, "Try it alone."  A Scout who ails drops out of the group to practice under tutelage of one who knows the bandage.

Repeat until all have learned bandage. Then, "Tie your bandage before I count ten." Then, "Tie bandage before I count five." Then, " See who can tie bandage the quickest. Go." Then, relay bandage tying. 


Dramatization is the best way of presenting first aid problems.

The use of compass, signaling, and life saving may also be impressed vividly on the boy's mind by a realistic staging.


Fire building, cooking, and many other activities the scout will learn best by trial. His very mistakes will teach him. The Scout may devour gleefully a soggy pancake, but an hour later he will be much less enthusiastic, and the next time he will use more care in his cooking.

Actual use of Scoutcraft is the best means of practice. The way to learn Craftsmanship is to make articles. The way to learn map making is to make maps. And so on.


Many subjects will depend, in whole or part, on observation. Bird Study and Forestry are among those largely dependent on the Scout's observation.


Charts and blackboards may be used to illustrate a subject such as map reading or the use of the compass. Models, photos, and drawings are often useful, as in nature study.

Motion picture films and lantern slides, which may be secured without cost through University Extension Centers, may be used to advantage in teaching Safety First and many other subjects.

A demonstration by experienced Scouts is one of the best ways of presenting signaling and first aid.


Discussion among themselves will bring out and strengthen the boys' knowledge of such subjects as hiking technique. Each boy will have an "idea" of his own.

One of the best methods of review is the use of competitive quizzes, such as the following:

Spell-down: Scoutmaster and instructor ask questions of increasing difficulty. Each Scout falls out as he fails to answer.

Inter-Patrol Quiz: Two patrols "quiz " each other alternately. Scoutmaster to decide on the fairness of questions and keep score of correct answers.

Scout Baseball: 

Four bases and a pitcher's box are marked out, as far apart as the space available permits, with players' benches on either side of the home plate. A brick or a chalk mark is sufficient, as the game is a mental rather than a physical one. A list of questions has been made up beforehand, all of which any Scout in the troop should be able to answer. Two captains are selected who choose up for sides and for "ins " and "outs." The Scoutmaster or a patrol leader acts as umpire.

The play is begun by the pitcher "pitching" one of the questions on the list that has been prepared The batter "takes a swing at it."  If he answers correctly, it is a "hit" and he goes to first base. If not he is "out."  Three "outs" retire the side and the opposing side comes to bat.  Base runners are advanced by being forced.  If three men get on base, the pitcher is considered as being "batted out of the box" and a substitute is put in. A new pitcher is substituted each inning. Only runs count in the score.

The code of questions used must be revised as the players advance in skill. For instance, for beginners in Semaphore signaling, only the first seven letters may be used at the start. Then as the players become proficient a few more letters may be added at a time until finally the batter is sending words or messages.  Chas. F. Smith.


Talks by competent men, if not too long winded, are always welcomed by the Scout. The Scoutmaster can himself make clear to the Scout by short talks the reason for various things, for example, the thrift requirement.

Book Study:

When the Scout desires to study thoroughly a subject he will have to refer to text books. He should be guided in his search for books and encouraged in his research. Such technical subjects as Wireless Telegraphy could never be taught in the meeting, but the boys can study them up outside.

The Methods of Scouting






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.