In Scouting, we help boys learn how to cook a meal, how to use a map and compass to find their way, how to use basic first aid to treat minor injuries. Each of these is a life-long skill. "Learning by doing" has always been a key element in the design of Scouting. So, why not help Scouts learn a method for solving problems. Learning a skill takes practice, and it is best to start at the simplest level.
Through stories involving ethical dilemmas Scouts learn successful ways to resolve real problems. With experience, Scouts can learn how to apply this method to real problems in Scouting and in their own lives
This problem solving model describes a set of teachable skills. It is a process of thinking. Learning the use of the model should be conducted with a positive attitude and an open mind. Scouts can learn the skills by using these three elements of the process:
EMPATHY. Putting yourself in the other person’s place.
INVENTION. Inventing as many solutions to a problem as you can.
SELECTION. Deciding which solution is the best for the most people.
These problem-solving skills put Scouts in charge of the process. They learn how to weigh alternatives, find creative solutions, and avoid potential problems. While the process is introduced through the use of stories, with practice, it can be applied to real-life situations. With experience, you can learn a simple and thoughtful process which you can use in solving real problems you are faced with..
The Leader’s Role
Your goal as a leader is to introduce Scouts to the three elements listed above. To begin, you can use several of the stories in the Scoutmaster’s Junior Leader Training Kit. More stories are found in the collection of stories by Tasha Baizerman, called RIGHT, WRONG, or WHAT? — Problem-Solving for Scouts. You will find a few questions at the end of each of the stories. These questions will help you get the Scouts started with the thinking process.
A Little Drama
To liven things up a bit, appeal to the Scouts’ sense of drama. Try introducing the model at a campfire. Have the Scouts sit by patrols. Introduce the elements of problem-solving using the short comments about learning skills found at the top of this page. Introduce each of the three elements briefly, but rather than explain, ask the Scouts what they think the meaning of each element. They will probably surprise you with their understanding, and expressing these thoughts in their own words will provide a much clear understanding.
Read one of the stories. Ask the boys to discuss the story as a patrol. Have them work through the three elements. Ask them to be prepared to present their "solution" to the problem by role-playing the discussion between the characters in the story.
As you guide the Scouts through this process, there won’t be any pointers to show them how. So, ask the to remember the following stepping stones:
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