Lessons from the Classroom



The other day, a friend who’s a high-school teacher sent me a fascinating blog post by Alexis Wiggins, a veteran teacher who shadowed a couple of students for two days. By walking in their shoes and talking with them afterward, she discovered some things she’d been doing wrong in the classroom for years.

I strongly encourage you to read the whole article (which includes some simple strategies for better teaching), but here are Wiggins’ three key takeaways:

  1. Students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting. (Teachers, who have the freedom to walk around, roam the classroom, write on the board, etc., don’t realize how hard it is to sit all day.)
  2. High school students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90% of their classes. (Rather than engage in discussions or wrestle with material, students are expected to absorb information like sponges suck up water.)
  3. You [the student] feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long. (Teachers are always telling students to be quiet and pay attention. When students do speak up, they’re often faced with eye rolls and snarky comments like, “Once again, let me explain….”)

So what does all these have to do with Scouting? A couple of things.

First, the environment Wiggins describes is probably the environment your Scouts have been in all day before your troop meeting. If they get more of the same from you, Scouting isn’t going to be very appealing. Troop meetings should be active and engaging–not dry lectures on boring subjects.

Second, the experiment Wiggins describes is one you could easily replicate. Imagine what you would learn if you spent two troop meetings shadowing Scouts (perhaps a first-year Scout one week and an older Scout the next). Would you discover how rude Mr. Smith is when Scouts ask simple questions? Would you discover why some of your Life Scouts would rather hide in their patrol room than teach knot-tying to the “little kids” for the umpteenth time? Would you discover why your Scouts are staring out the window while you’re lecturing on first aid? Or would you discover an exciting, engaging program that is truly delivering the promise of Scouting?

I’d love to hear what you discover. Post your results in the comments section below.

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