By Stan Lockhart
Apr 27, 2016

Helping our youth thrive in today’s economic climate

As I try to figure out how to change the world for the better, I’ve gotten involved in the education of Utah’s children. I’ve helped spearhead a STEM initiative, served on the boards of science centers and currently serve on the Utah State Board of Education. I’ve volunteered in the classroom, served on my local school PTA committee and contributed to donorschoose.org projects in schools. All of these experiences have acquainted me with people who are working to better the lives and education of children.

stem 3From these educators and researchers, I’ve learned that one of the great challenges in educating children is helping them figure out what opportunities are there for them when they graduate from high school. These career pathways are not clear to students and parents, which limits their ability to find the best careers for them.

Tony Wagner, a widely respected education author, explains that the best way for young people to succeed in our current economy is for them to be innovators. Unfortunately, he says, “The culture of schooling as we have grown up with it is radically at odds with the culture of learning that produces innovators.” He claims the best education is based on collaboration, interdisciplinary problem-solving, and intrinsic motivation.

Cub Scout Leader with boysParents, mentors, and educators can best offer this kind of education by encouraging play, passion, and purpose in their youth. Wagner’s thesis goes something like this: early on we should encourage children to be exposed to a variety of subject matter. Over time, the child will discover passion for one or more things. Once we see what they are enthusiastic about, then we can help them find purpose and meaning. By following this pattern, students can be guided into places where they can change the world for the better.

So where does Scouting come in? We know Scouting builds character in young men and helps them become contributing members of society. But are we also using Scouting programs to give youth the education necessary for them to become innovators?

If leaders and parents commit to using the Scouting program to help their youth express creativity, learn through trial and failure, and work together,it can be a perfect way to progress through the play, passion, and purpose process. Boys are exposed to a variety of skills and careers with merit badges and other Scout activities. In the process, boys just may discover an exciting passion and career that will bless them and their families for decades. By using the patrol method and letting the boys collaborate and guide their own learning, you can create innovators that will not only survive, but thrive in our economic and cultural environment. Yet another way that Boy Scouts matters for young people.

If you have questions, concerns, or feedback, feel free to contact me at stanlockhartutah@gmail.com or 8013682166.

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Author: Stan Lockhart | President, Utah National Parks Council, BSA

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