Thursday, 30 July 2009
Learning through Doing
The quadpod in the picture was built using a cloverleaf lashing. There are two reasons why I built it. The first is a trick I picked up from some of the younger girls in our scout troop: if you keep a bit of string in your pencil case, you can practise your lashings when school gets boring. Admittedly, that probably works better when you aren't studying via correspondance. Secondly, Lynx (one of the scouters) emailed me instructions for the cloverleaf lashing and I just had to try it before our meeting tomorrow.
The whole exercise reminded me of an aspect I really like about scouting. Scouting is about learning much more than it's about testing. At school, kids are generally taught how to pass the exam. There's no point in learning something if it won't be tested. Scouting turns that paradigm on its head.
Sure, there are badges and some people really enjoy signing off as many as they can. There are other girls, though, who just aren't that interested in badges and don't do much work for them. Every single one of them has learned heaps from scouting. You can't be a scout without learning, even if you don't realise it.
Every girl who's built the full size version of the quadpod in my photo understands the concept and the importance of bracings. It's not because they've been drilled on the engineering principles behind them. It's because they've seen what happens to a four-metre-high structure when you don't brace it, or at least how unstable it is while you're bracing it. I'm sure they would understand the engineering principles quite easily now - much more easily than if they'd tried to learn them cold.
The same principle can be applied to most aspects of scouting. Scouts get the chance to put their hands on things and fully understand how they work. Even if they don't try, scouts learn a lot through observation and osmosis. I wish the school system could work that way, but I realise there are practical constraints. I'm grateful that there is a system like scouting where kids can experience practical learning that is anything but boring.
Tags: my crazy ideas