DELTA is a Scouting program. It is simply a way of emphasizing and enhancing value and ethical development in youth and in adult leaders. DELTA uses approaches developed in formal schooling and nonformal education programs to help youth achieve a heightened awareness and competence in deciding about what matters to them in their everyday lives. It helps them become the persons they think they ought to be. Since ethical and value development is only one aspect of human development, we begin with this larger framework.
By youth development we mean the patterns in the systematic changes that occur over time, as youth leave childhood and enter adolescence and then young adulthood. Systematic changes in what? In their bodies, their heads, their feelings, their relationships with friends and adults and in the questions and issues that concern them and that matter to them. The idea of development should not be strange. It is a way of thinking about systematic changes in plants, trees, animals and even in ideas or buildings, as they go from a less complex to a more complex thing. This is not just a matter of getting bigger, however, although that is often part of it. As a youth develops, a task he was unable to do because he wasn't yet coordinated may become something he can do now because he is coordinated. This can be anything from shooting a basketball, hammering a nail, lighting a paper match, or climbing a rope to walking and chewing gum at the same time! (In Appendix I is a chart that outlines some of our current knowledge about the phases of mental, moral and social development.)
Development is a common sense idea: As plants, animals and people grow older, they change, typically by becoming more complex. If one watches tomato plants in a garden, it can be seen that each plant grows in its own unique way, but that in general all the plants change in pretty much the same way: they get taller, they get more leaves, the tomato flowers appear and then fall off, small tomatoes come into being and then grow larger and change color, and so on. This is development: From puppy to dog; from seed to plant; from baby to child to kid to teenager to adolescent to youth to adult ...
With plants we know enough to say:
If you want the best results, plant the seeds in prepared soil after all danger of frost has passed. Place seeds in rows I2 inches apart and at a depth of one-fourth inch. Cover with soil. Water regularly and ...
With children we know enough to say:
If you want to increase the chances that your baby will be healthy, smart, and handsome, then ...
With adolescents we know enough to say:
There are some guidelines which raise the odds that this youth will become a fine adult. Some things you can do are ...
DELTA is one of the things that you could do.
DELTA activities focus on one kind of systematic change-the changes in how youth think about ethics and values. DELTA is a method, a set of processes based on what we understand about youth development. But it is a Scouting program in content. It brings a developmental perspective to Boy Scouting and joins the two.
BOY SCOUTING IS YOUTH DEVELOPMENT!
To this mixture is added a lot of common sense and a practical knowledge about kids and about life. The result is unique - DELTA!
Obviously, no parent or Scout Leader, developmental specialist or university professor, religious teacher or the neighborhood wise man knows exactly how to guarantee the making of a fine adult. Actually, this is GREAT! Wouldn't it be awful if someone did know all the right moves? What if such a one gained control over the world? What if you disagreed? Where would you be then?
But that doesn't mean that everyone is on his or her own, either. What Scouters and parents and religious leaders and developmentalists and professors do know and usually agree on is, that there are guidelines for enhancing personal development. DELTA uses these guidelines.
Developmentalists have some basic knowledge about how youth change systematically in their bodies, in how they think and in their relationships with friends, parents and others. DELTA is about these changes. Several of them are important to think about at this point.
One way to think about youth development is in terms of "ages and stages." (There is a DELTA videotape based on these ideas.) There are some important points to remember however:
1. Age and developmental stage often don't coincide exactly;
2. As youth grow older, they tend to mature, but these changes are not just physical and mental. As they mature there are changes in what matters to them and what concerns them. There are also changes in how they think about their ideas and feelings and how they act on them.
The first point is easy to see. Just go to any shopping mall, or eighth grade classroom or to a middle school basketball game or to a Scout troop meeting and look at a bunch of teenagers. Even if they are the same age, they will vary greatly in height and weight, whether they need to shave or how high or low their voices are. Same age, different physical development.
The second point is also easy to see. Just go to a shopping mall or a Scout troop meeting or watch outside a middle school or a Saturday movie and look at a bunch of teenagers. The youngest ones will tend to be in groups of kids of the same gender and developmental age; the next older ones will tend to be in groups of mixed gender, while the oldest ones will tend to be in boy-girl couples.
Or, looking at it another way, think about whom the military tries to recruit and who signs up. Volunteers are youth, often those with strong values about defending their country. In other countries, the guerrillas who fight in revolutionary and civil wars are often youth who have deep and strong beliefs in abstract ideals such as "freedom," or "justice."
There is another important point to remember here:
Each youth is an individual and moves at his own pace. Thus "normal" covers a range of individual Differences. While we can make comparisons between and among kids, there is no right or wrong speed.
We cannot emphasize too strongly, that changes in each aspect of a person's development, may move at a different speed and over a different number of phases. Thus a youth's body can change more rapidly than his coordination or his friendships or his search for ideals or his interests in girls. This is called "developmental a-synchrony." In everyday life, this may be seen in a little kid with a soprano voice who already understands calculus, or in a 15-year-old who is 6' 1 " and seems to act more like he is twelve. Looked at from a developmental perspective, both are unique individuals-perhaps a little "out of synch," but both are "normal. " In a supportive environment, most kids have a good chance of making it to the finish line more or less "together."
As we have already said, DELTA focuses primarily on ethical and value development, that is, on the systematic changes in what and how youth think and act on things which matter to them. Let us explore this further.
Like all other aspects of development, ethical development may be thought of as change from less complex to more complex, in a more or less orderly sequence. Unlike physical development that for most young people is best enhanced by patience and waiting out the changes, ethical development can be, and most would agree, must be encouraged more directly.
Moral development can be strongly influenced by experience. Thus, the pace of movement from one phase to another and the number of phases that a person eventually moves through can be influenced by a program that provides certain kinds experiences. (All is not genetics and early family environment!)
Ethical development takes place over many years-some would say, over an entire lifetime. The way that young people talk about moral issues seems to be related to their mental development, but often seems to have little to do with the way that they act when they have to make ethical decisions. Sometimes very young children put aside self-interest and do very thoughtful things, while older youngsters who should "know better" continue to act in very immature ways. Discrepancies like these have complicated attempts to understand just how moral development happens. In recent years, however, researchers have begun to talk about the two "voices*" people use to decide about moral issues. One is "justice," that centers on rules, and the other is caring," that centers on relationships with others. Both are very important.
*Gilligan, Carol. In A Different Voice. Harvard University, 1982.
Many feel that because ours is a "nation of law," we are more concerned with Justice. Justice looks out for the rights of individuals. Little children are mainly concerned with "obeying" to avoid punishment. By the time they are Boy Scout age, most will have begun to really understand such ideas as the "Golden Rule. " As teens, and young adults, they will become able to separate "what is," from "what should be" and will be able to act according to their own moral standards regardless of possible consequences or what others think.
Abraham Lincoln came to see that slavery was not only a political or a property issue as the "slave states" claimed, but was a moral issue as well. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation at great cost to the nation and to himself.
The voice of caring receives less attention, but it is equally important, for ours is also a nation that cares for the common good. Young children are concerned mainly about the consequences of their behavior for themselves. But they gradually come to care about the consequences for others as well. Later, caring includes respect for others and personal responsibility for their well being.
One of the powers of the peer group in adolescence is that these kids really care about each other. We sometimes mistrust "peer pressure" because of its power to draw group members into doing things that we think they shouldn't. But probably more often than not, it is a powerful reason for doing what they should.
Justice and Caring together are powerful! They combine right and wrong, personal responsibility, concern about the consequences of one's behavior, and respect for oneself as well as for others. This is Scouting at its best!
Boy Scouting is the development of the individual through the group. A Boy Scout is concerned with the individual and the group, the self and others, the troop and the community. Justice and caring touch them all. DELTA emphasizes both justice and caring.
DELTA is a program to develop ethical leaders. Ethical leaders, according to Boy Scouting, must be concerned about the individual and the group, about justice and caring. How best to bring about this interest and competence. DELTA's answer is Experiential learning.
We adults work at jobs which we have learned to do. When we think about how we have mastered our work tasks or a hobby, we usually come up with an answer such as, "I learned it on the job" or "I just watched some guy do it and I caught on" or "The company had a training program" or "I learned It from my dad." Most of our real skills were learned in the real world. We learned practical skills on-the-job. We learned through experience.
Experiential learning is the basic approach of most non-formal, out-of-school educational programs like Scouting. Experiential learning can be thought of as a circle which is opened by a need to do something. First we think about what is reasonable to do, that is, we discuss and define the issues. We explore alternatives, reason out strategies and tactics, getting ready. The next step is obvious: We DO IT! The next one may not be as obvious but is absolutely crucial. Here, we think about and reflect on what we did and all that happened. This is where we really learn!
It is so simple and so basic. Whether you farm, program computers, teach school, sell insurance or clean offices, the process is the same. Learning from experience is learning by doing and reflecting.
SCOUTING IS EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING!
DELTA is learning about Scouting values and ethics through experience.
DELTA IS EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING!
DELTA is a way to help youth and adult leaders use special shared experiences to understand ideas, feelings and actions related to values and ethics. Many of the DELTA activities are based on situations drawn from the "real world" in which kids live (and where most of their experiential education takes place). This is a very old approach to learning ethics, going all the way back to the Greeks who believed that people can only become just through living in a just society!
"Reflecting" may be the only term in the experiential learning cycle that is somewhat unfamiliar. Reflection really includes two processes: Thinking about what occurred and making sense of it. Reflection helps to integrate the experience into life. This is how we learn from experience, and experience only teaches if we know how to listen.
Reflecting can be a silent, private "conversation" with oneself, or it may include others. It can even be a written process, or all of these. Boy Scouting occurs in small groups, so the reflection with DELTA is a spoken, small group process led by an adult. Leading group reflection is a skill, but one that can be learned easily. Chapter 3, on Games, details how to lead reflective discussions. The DELTA video "Reflection" also introduces and demonstrates this skill.
Experiential learning has also been called action-learning. Both can be shaped in a variety of ways. One form is SERVICE LEARNING. This is where the experience involves doing something for somebody else: for another person, a family, a community or the like. Sound familiar? This is Scouting's 'GOOD TURN.' As Scouting has known from the beginning, values and ethics are learned easily when they are part of service. Scouting is a way of learning through service. The DELTA Good Turn is Service Learning
In doing DELTA activities, Scouts share experiences and reflect on them. DELTA activities create opportunities for the mastery of knowledge and skills such as:
It doesn't just happen, however, and the Scout leader has an important role to play. Being a Scout leader is to be a teacher in a non-formal, community education program. As a leader of youth, your primary teaching method is experiential education. Your skills include how to use experiential education methods to help Scouts themselves design and implement the community service projects from which they will learn about values and ethics. You will be helping them to learn what it means to be a Scout and how to be a Scout.
Leaders and teachers share a concern for how to be most effective. Timing is very important. In every field, good leaders and good teachers must pay close attention to the group and the individuals in it, looking for the RIGHT MOMENT. In DELTA, the right moment is called THE TEACHABLE MOMENT-the moment when something special can be learned because something special has just happened.
For example, the leader might notice:
All these are ordinary moments in the life of Scouting. Extra-ordinary is the leader who can see the possibilities in such a moment, who can see the moment as an invitation to help Scouts learn about values and ethics.
Life makes experiences for the leader to notice and use as a teacher.
|Chapter Three, Part I: DELTA Activities: Cooperative Games|
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April 14, 1996