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Not ready for the world.
Author: TriSec    Date: 06/22/2019 10:16:35

Not Ready For the World

OK, so it’s got nothing to do with the topic of today’s muse, but it does give me an excuse to post this video.

This past weekend, we were down at Johnson & Wales University alongside Narragansett Bay for incoming freshman orientation.

Javi, and several hundred other newbies, spent an overnight in a dorm, did some teambuilding exercises, and sat in many hours of presentations about what to expect on campus, and how to transition from home to campus life.

Meanwhile, Mama TriSec and I, along with hundreds of other parents, did NOT spend an overnight in a dorm, but we to sat in on many hours of similar presentations.

Some were quite useful. It’s beneficial to parents to know about basic services, medical and emergency support, and students navigating their way between two campuses (Downcity and Harborside, separated by several miles) as well as getting to the train and the airport to get home.

As a culinary student with food allergies, we were particularly interested in the Accessibility office, and Javi has to self-identify on move-in weekend so appropriate accommodations can be made. (He won’t be tasting much shellfish or nut-based dishes, I’m sure.)

But as we sat through the hours of presentations, I slowly became more incredulous at the sheer banality of some of the questions. Some parents were concerned about how ‘picky eater’ their children were – would they starve? Others wondered that their children have ‘never done laundry’ before, how do they do that? A couple of the more intrepid ones wondered about cooking in the dorms (No – fire hazard), and more than a few were worried about their darling child moving to an urban campus in the big, bad city.

One of the presenters made the connection for these folks – their children have spent 18 years living under their childhood rooves, and whenever anything happened, or went wrong, or their children couldn’t solve, they all did the same thing. “MOM! DAD! Something isn’t right – make it better!!”

This is when I started to become smug.

You all know what my life mission is. From the age of 22, I have been an adult volunteer with Scouts BSA (new name!). Life skills that these parents were all worried about, I have taught for more than 30 years to boys of all ages. Some of them became men; others I’m not so sure. But everyone that has ever worn a uniform in any one of my units has walked out that door learning something.

I look at Javi – the advantages he has by virtue of wearing the uniform and participating in the program are immeasurable. Just to go down a laundry list of issues we heard about during this weekend…

“How will he make new friends?” Javi has camped at multiple events with hundreds, if not thousands of other boys that he did not know. Given the same experience that everyone at those events was having, it’s very easy to walk up to somebody and strike up a conversation and go from there.

“What happens if he hates his roommate?” It’s pretty routine. When we get to a camp, especially if we’re sharing space with other units, it’s uncommon but not unheard of to mix it up and have unfamiliar scouts camp in close proximity. It forces them to figure each other out and build relationships. Javi is going to World Jamboree this summer, and tenting buddies were deliberately assigned to split up boys from the same unit for this exact reason.

“How will they get around the city?” We live in a city now. Like me and Mama TriSec, Javi is public-transportation savvy. By virtue of all the hikes and map-reading we have done over the years, it’s easy for him to navigate unfamiliar territory. Providence will not be a challenge.

“What if they run out of money?” Two words for this one – Personal Management. It’s one of the required merit badges for Eagle, where scouts learn these life skills they wouldn’t be able to anywhere else.

“How will they get to the airport, or train station?” This one floored me. The patient and kind transportation director laid out all the options, told us about the bus system and where it goes, but no less than FOUR sets of parents asked the same thing. If you’re that worried about your child on public transportation, call a friggin’ Uber, mmmkay?

In just one scouting year, Javi has recruited scouts to his leadership team. Molded them into a functioning unit, and helped with mentoring those scouts into their new roles. As youth leader in charge of the troop, Javi is in charge of discipline. Boys will be boys, so conflicts and other issues get elevated to the SPL for resolution (and to the Scoutmaster if it’s more serious than that.) Javi led the Patrol Leader’s Council, the monthly meeting of senior youth, and planned trips and events, and in turn the troop meeting program to support those events. Capping the year, Javi and his lieutenants put together a 400-mile roadtrip to Washington, DC. Planned all the events, arranged for tickets and other admissions, and did menu planning and shopping for the trip.

These things are not accidental. Academics is one thing, but most of the parents were worried about those “intangibles” that I teach as a matter of course. The support network of the campus is also designed to make sure those freshmen make it through their first few weeks without wandering off or starving to death. Seriously – academics, grades, study, classroom support…all seemed to be an afterthought during this orientation.

In the end, I blame MCAS, and those ridiculous Common Core requirements fostered upon us by the Bush Administration and NCLB. Massachusetts was always exempt from these things, since our own standards were always higher than the Feds.

But is that truly the measure of a well-rounded student? I’m increasingly seeing that answer as NO.


1 comments (Latest Comment: 06/24/2019 02:27:49 by BobR)
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