Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Dumbing down the Duke of Edinburgh?

My daughter is taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh award ,like her brother before her.The only difference- he did his through scouts, my daughter is doing hers through school.

Having been first a brownie, then a guide, then a scout and now an active member of Explorer scouts she has eight years of scouting under her belt.During that time she has undertaken various camps and expeditions, qualified in first aid, learned to cook on a camp fire, survive in the wild and kayak to Piel island, home of Swallows and Amazons.

Piel Island (Wildcat Island in Swallows and Amazons)

Her experience of doing D of E through school has been frustrating to say the least. There have been a series of tick boxes and hurdles to jump over so that the teacher running the course can satisfy the powers that be that everything necessary has been done to ensure they are safe .

Obviously there is nothing wrong with that, but when teachers insist that all participants attend  after school meetings to:

a) Practice putting up at tent
b)Light a Trangia
c)Do basic first aid
when you have been doing it for years, and a simple request to see the appropriate first aid certificate and a letter of competency from a scout leader, would presumably have done the job.You have to ask yourself whether this is really no more than a glorified lesson?

It seems  as though the more experienced participants  are not being given credit for their ability to use their initiative and think for themselves.

It's a bit like school itself really,those that are academic and bright are often held back by the least able pupils in the class which is why I'm such an advocate of home education where everyone is an individual.

Anyway to get to the point.In scouts, my son's group had to devise their own route, plot the ordnance survey points,decide on a place to camp and, subject to appropriate risk assessments by the leaders and being provided with the obvious emergency numbers off they went.

Having a laugh on one of their scout expeditions!

In contrast ,whist my daughter was eager to wild camp, her teacher insisted on a campsite with showers (in case they wanted to wash) and, whilst my daughter sensibly decided to take money to buy milk for her cereal rather than carry it in hot sunshine,the camp shop was out of bounds because it was a 'survival weekend'.It's a lucky man that survives on a desert island with hot showers methinks!

My main concern about all this is that my son and most of his scouting friends have all got apprenticeships and I'm convinced it was down to their diversity of outside interests (particularly D of E) rather than their academic achievements.

 Employers recognise that often students who have done D of E have more life skills, are confident and sociable and adapt better to the workplace.

Teachers recognise this too, but by introducing it into the school day they are inadvertently drawing it into the 'national curriculum' and if we are not careful it will be no more than a piece of paper that most school pupils have to add an extra dimension to their C.V. ,which after all is what it is all about (it even says that on my daughter's school letter!)

Making memories

I hope that won't happen, Duke of Edinburgh awards are a wonderful experience and a great opportunity for any young person seeking to continually improve themselves throughout life.Through them you make new friends,visit new places and gain new experiences.

With any luck there will be a drop as the challenges get harder with each new award and the participants find they  "have to get on with it." It will leave behind only those who really do have a passion for life and a keenness to try new things. (If the glut of Trangia's for sale on Ebay ,which have only been used once, is anything to go by,it would certainly seem so!)

Then employers will be able to judge for themselves the candidates who are up to the job!

No comments:

Post a Comment