Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Obtain as much Education as Possible

Some time ago I started a series that partnered the Ideals and Methods of Scouting with the Aaronic Priesthood Purposes. Here is the long-procrastinated third installment of nine.

"Obtain as much education as possible" - "Mentally Awake," Personal Growth

Here's why this seemingly secular and temporal thing would be a priesthood duty: "...fathers...are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families."1 You might need a job for that!  This now gets a little more sticky, for according to a recent New York Times Article, the hiring bar has been raised at firms all over the country – applicants without a college degree need not apply. Why is this the new standard? It is assumed that those who complete the degree are more goal- or career-oriented, hence stronger applicants and employees.*
“This up-credentialing is pushing the less educated even further down the food chain, and it helps explain why the unemployment rate for workers with no more than a high school diploma is more than twice that for workers with a bachelor’s degree: 8.1 percent versus 3.7 percent.

“Some jobs...have become more technical, and so require more advanced skills today than they did in the past. But more broadly, because so many people are going to college now, those who do not graduate are often assumed to be unambitious or less capable.

“Plus, it’s a buyer’s market for employers.2
It is my feeling that Scouting will help kids as they approach their college experience, or even make the decision to go to college - yea, even to BYU (I love my True-Blue Aggies!). How? Scouting teaches what my parents called “stick-to-it-iveness,” it gives youth a series of “surmountable obstacles” to overcome as they challenge themselves to achieve their goals. It teaches teamwork, financial management principles, leadership, accountability and more that will be required in college, and later in the workforce, the family, and in life. It's not the only place to learn these lessons, but it is a great preparation for the realities of real life, when mommy and daddy are (we hope) not right there to fix everything. It’s a place where there are consequences for one’s actions, but that generally have no lasting effect; yet the lessons of those consequences will serve well later when they do matter.

Baden Powell describes education as a journey of discovery as opposed to simply being taught (kind of like the adage, "sitting in a church makes you a Christian the way sitting in a garage makes you a car").  The lessons listed above are all the more powerful because a boy has experienced them, in varying degrees of success, through his own efforts and because of his own interest.  "Here, then, lies the most important object in the Boy Scout Training:  to educate; not to instruct, mind you, but to educate - that is, to draw out the boy to learn for himself, of his own desire, the things that tend to build up character in him."3 Education in this sense is based on experiences, trial-and-error, drawing one's conclusions from experimentation, and going through a process of elimination to the best answers.  Here are a few more of RBP's statements on education:

  • “The most important object in Boy Scout training is to educate, not instruct.” (i.e., provide opportunities for the boy to experience and learn, not tell him the answer or do the work he could do himself)
  • “In Scouting, a boy is encouraged to educate himself instead of being instructed.”
  • “We are not a club or a Sunday school class, but a school of the woods.” 
  • “A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room.”
  • “Teach Scouts not how to get a living, but how to live.”
  • “There is no teaching to compare with example.”

The Merit Badge system provides over 130 topics of interest that encourage experimentation and self-study.  Many are very academically-based, others are more whimsical (basketry is still around?).  The point is, through working through the requirements, every boy can meet with a level of satisfied success, and enjoy his accomplishment at having learned something new, or worked through a problem more complex than he thought he could have done. The outdoor experiences exist to teach planning and execution, teamwork, leadership, accountability.  And those life-lessons will stick around longer than classroom lectures, better preparing him for the rigors of higher education.
"The whole object of our Scouting is to seize the boy's character in its redhot stage of enthusiasm, and to weld it into the right shape and to encourage and develop its individuality so that the boy may educate himself to become a good man and a valuable citizen for his country.4
Being mentally awake - intellectually curious, always looking for answers to questions, solving problems, rather than being told what and how to do and think. That is what God wants us to be.

Prepared. | For Life.™
  1. The Family - A Proclamation to the World
  2. Catherine Rampell, It Takes a B.A. to Find a Job as a File Clerk, New York Times, Feb 19, 2013, Retrieved on Feb 21, 2013
  3. Lord Robert Baden Powell, Aids to Scoutmastership, Dodo Press, p. 37
  4. ibid, p. 96

Other essays in this series:
Introduction
Missionary Preparation

*Each family and individual will have different employment possibilities and needs, never mind that there are so many factors outside one's control, like the general state of the economy. However, making oneself as competitive as possible by obtaining the skills and knowledge needed in a given field are factors that can be controlled for, even the funding part - between grants, scholarships, working, the Montgomery GI Bill and student loans put education in reach.

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