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Field Experience Report: Indooroopilly Scouts

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Field Experience Report: Indooroopilly Scouts

1.0 The site and organisation

Every Tuesday night, Indooroopilly Scouting Group opens their hall and hosts two separate scouting sessions that cater for youths between the ages of 7 and 12, both of which I attended. Running the programs are two qualified scout leaders, Andy Hall and Brenton Rasheed and an array of helping parents and Ð''Blue Card'-carrying volunteers. Andy and Brenton were welcoming and encouraged me to join in, even allowing me to attend their annual weekend Scouting Camp. It is on the camp when I particularly had the opportunity to engage with the youths by leading them in activities as well as actively observing them in the camp's more informal context. In the formal setting of the Scouting hall, the activities the leaders initiate are typically small-scale games due to space restrictions, as well as Ð''Boomerang work', which is practically Ð''Scouting study'. The Boomerang work is when the Scouts sit and listen to a leader teach about a specific topic such as health and hygiene, survival in the bush, tying knots, et cetera. What can be practiced within the hall is practiced, but the Scouting Camp was a great opportunity to exercise the knowledge they have gained in the Hall. These activities included such things as setting up tents, collecting wood, constructing fires and bushwalking.

1.1 Available resources

The resources the Scouting Group has available are fairly basic, and are possibly restricted due to the inexpensive cost of attending Scouts. The hall is relatively small with cement floor (which is useful for many of the games that require chalk outlines), and the activities are limited to the use of equipment such as balls, ropes, paper and pens and buckets and batons. In the context of the camp, first aid supplies, tents, and larger ropes and tarpaulins were used, but many forms of technology such as phones, game boys, et cetera were still prohibited. The activities the Scout leaders initiate, then, are quite often simple, yet creative.

2.0 Key Educational Concepts:

The key concepts I focused on during my field experience were those outlined in Gallimiore and Tharp's Teaching mind in society, including the six means of assisting performance; which are modeling, contingency management, feeding back, instructing, cognitive structuring and questioning, as well as the self-fullfilling prophecy and teacher expectations (McInerney &McInerney 2006) and Vygotsky's zone of proximal development and the metaphor of scaffolding (Gallimore & Tharp1990). This report will reflect on how these specific methods and models were implemented, both by the leaders and myself, and discuss the extent of their effectiveness.

2.1 Means of assisting performance

During my scouting experience I experimented with and observed the implementation of all six means of assisting performance. Modelling for a Scout is important due to the numerous small-scale tasks they undertake like tying specific knots or practicing applications of first aid. Most often during Ð''Boomerang work', the leader models the task first, and the scouts watch. We as the leaders had the responsibility to model in clear and effective ways and Ð''scaffold' (Gallimore & Tharp 1990) the scouts until their practice allowed them autonomy with the task.

The main form of contingency management I saw and was instructed to use was in the form of verbal praise. Scouts are not given material rewards for winning games or answering questions correctly and are rather taught to value recognition through praise, so this means of assistance is particularly effective. After completing set out stages of scouting, however, their rewards are specific badges for their uniform which are highly valued and worn proudly. In terms of punishment within contingency managagement, most scouts are required to sit out of a game or task which is not desirable for a scout. From my time with the scouts, this was a rare occurrence and I also observed how leader expectations can influence behaviour. The scout leaders had high expectations of their scouts and the scouts in turn tried to live up to them; appearing disappointed and regretful when found in trouble. Observing the self-fulfilling prophecy and value of leader/teacher expectations (McInerney & McInerney 2006) first hand, the scout leaders' high expectations set high standards of behaviour which the scouts constantly strived to meet.

A large part of this success was due to what Gallimore and Tharp refers to as feeding back, argued by them as the Ð''most common and single most effective means of assisting performance' (p180). During tasks and games, when the scouts would receive feedback, adjustments were continually made to their technique and would gradually improve their performance. At times the scouts would even ask that we leaders provide feedback, indicating the power and favour of this means of assisting performance.

The method of instructing proved absolutely essential in assigning the scouts with tasks and catching their attention especially of the younger scouts. This method was never used independently, and just as Gallimore and Tharp stress that it must, it was always layered with other means of assisting performance such as contingency management and feeding back (1990). The leaders' use of instructing was effective; never over-instructing so as to oppress the scouts, but using it when necessary.

Cognitive structuring occurs in a scout meeting through a variety of ways and allows for a structured, familiar environment that the youth can learn comfortably in. The Boomerang Book each Scout has is a form of cognitive structuring in itself, in that it outlines what will, and must, be learned in a particular session to earn the certification of a leader and eventually a badge. Even the structure of a typical scout meeting allows for cognitive structuring; with consistent repetitious rituals like the opening and closing parade and in unison repeating the Ð''scouts honour'. These rituals set up the standard and mood for the whole meeting and underpin the activities and games and are often referred to at the end of a game or task in terms of purpose and morals.

Questioning is used most commonly at the end of the task to reflect on what the moral or lesson was behind the activity, and how the scouts cooperated and could have improved on. Questioning was a valuable means of assisting the scouts' performances throughout the activities as well, and was used to spark creativity in tasks of problem-solving and



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