Well said & done, Kaz!


From: "Kazimierz Verkmastare" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 6:39:46 PM
Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] [B3R List] New Society Youth initiative

Toolbox, Birdhouse, Bookends.  What a way to introduce medieval woodworking.  
I teach kids who want to learn how to make instruments.  I do it in my own shop.  I provide tools and materials, and mentoring.  I have successful 5 year olds in my personal program.  I do not give out badges, my students have both an instrument and knowledge to take home with them and keep - and that seems to be enough.
I don't believe in merit badges, acknowledgement by a system of pre-determined standards.  I believe that each extraordinary success made by man was made in ways that break merit-badge systems, and I believe that while the real world doesn't care much to produce the exceptional as a rule, rather being content at producing the adequate, because we are once again a hobby organization with non-real-world goals and practices, based around non-professional participants trying to have non-traditional fun time, it is imperative that if we are going to create programs to help in youth development (this proposal will not be as helpful at retention as hoped) then we should do so around ideals and dreams, exceptional expectations and recognitions thereof, done with all the expectations a medieval person would be expected to meet to be considered worthy of recognition, and with all the ceremony properly expected as well.  In other words, crea! te ways for kids to learn (which, by the way, we have), create recognitions (we as a kingdom are pretty lacking at that - we still have an adults-only tradition in most orders, even when reasonable skill and comportment is shown), and show how going over-the-top in effort and presentation (personal and project) can gain you a valued place in the Kingdom.  
I will teach archery, bowmaking, instrument building, various other crafts which I am skilled enough to validly teach, but I will not do it within this 'mentoring' program.  But I realize that this is how it is going to go.
There will likely be a reasonable number of people who will start out in opposition to this program.  For good and valid reasons.  People with different views will find themselves championed.  Bits and pieces will be adopted to start, provisionally and with caveat.  This will then become a championed cause, and accepted by enough kingdoms across the SCA with more 'mainstream' and modernized customs that the combined force of extra-kingdom pressure and in-kingdom effort will create something that will end up going against the more simple-minded in the kingdom, those who believe that doing things differently than this proposal will mean doing it better.  But bureaucracy will win out, an official program will be put in place where unofficial joyful work had sufficed.  Those like me will keep our voices in opposition loud enough to hear, until someone with a grander view of progress will simply turn around and say ! "Kaz, enough, things have changed, just sit down and shut up".
Best way to show how something will happen is to show how something has happened.  
And then, once the program is established, another good-hearted modern trained individual will look out and say, surely we should be able to look at these tokens (which, at the start, are not supposed to mean anything except to the bearer, they are not supposed to mean any level of recognition or award or real skill) and say "We are having such a hard time recognizing people, especially kids (duh, the SCA is not made for recognizing kids, and it is hard to go look at everyone who is doing anything when you are trying to spend your weekend playing and relaxing with your limited group of friends - that is what is supposed to happen at events, for most of us) that we need to start putting some weight on these tokens, allowing us to use them to help establish worthiness for invitation to our orders..."
And the merit badge system which is one of the founding no-nos of Calontir, is now firmly in place.
Don't tell me I'm wrong.  Prove me wrong.  Make it turn out some way other than this.  Do what I do, if you have a skill make yourself available and accessible to kids and families, and let it be known like I do through regular people that you are interested.  Interested families and kids will find you, then teach them.  We don't need an official bureaucracy to create our next generation.  We need a BoD that actually cares if people stay around, we need Kingdom level officers that aren't "I'd like to help you son, but you're too young to vote", we need GoAs and Laurels that want to teach kids, we need to make our corner of the SCA a place where the young members feel that they are contributing to the overall party, and not just placed into a program for their age group.  We win when we do that.
Maybe that's too simple and basic an answer, maybe I haven't included enough compromises and tweaks and official places for those who want official places and a mechanism for someone else to be ultimately responsible for problems and failures.  I guess I just don't think that way.

> The part that made me go, "Huh" is that it appears participants
> need to be MEMBERS. Not exactly the way to entice new families -
> they need to know why to stay & play, which means complete access
> to the information, before they are likely to join up.
> Eleanor Deyeson
> (Who thinks Merit Badges have their place, and the program could be
> good.)