Lord Baden-Powell on Education vs Instruction

171. Self-education, that is, what a boy learns for himself, is what is going to stick by him and guide him later on in life, far more than anything that is imposed upon him through instruction be a teacher.

172. The secret of sound education is to get each pupil to learn for himself, instead of instructing him by driving knowledge into him on a stereotyped system.

173.The necessary points to develop in our youth in order to evolve good citizens are:

1. Character

2. Erudition

These are stated in order of importance.

Number 2 is taught in the schools. Number 1 is left to the pupils to pick up for themselves out of school hours, according to their environment. Number 1 is precisely what the Scout Movement endeavours to supply.

The two main method of training are:

1. By education; that is by “drawing out” the individual boy and giving him the ambition and keenness to learn for himself

By instruction; that is by impressing and drumming knowledge into the boy.

Number 2 of these is still too often the rule. In the Scout Movement we use Number 1

174. I firmly believe making the training interesting to the men, so that they are encouraged to learn for themselves out of their own keenness, and the work thus becomes a form of self-eduction with them, instead of having the dry bones of instruction inflicted upon them.

175. Direct moral instruction – like drill – produces a pleasing veneer, but unless there is properly seasoned character below this will not stand wear.

176. Both Cadet and Scout movements are out for the good of the boy.  The outstanding differences between their respective methods of training is that of principle – one works through impression, the other through expression.  The Cadet training imposes collective instruction upon boys from without; while the Scout Movement encourages self-development on the part of the individual from within.  Military drill fashions him on to an approved standard as a part of the machine; whereas the aim of Scouting is to develop hi personal character and initiative as a first step.

177. The soul [of the Girl Guide] is educated – that is, self-expanded – from within; it cannot be developed artificially by the application of book instruction and rules from without.

178. The Scoutmasters educate the boy by encouraging his self-expression instead of disciplining him by police methods of repression.

179. You should not depend altogether on what is taught you in school.  The teacher can’t teach you everything, but when you have been shown by him how to learn useful knowledge it is up to you to go on and learn things for yourself.  The fellows who teach themselves are the fellows who get on in life. So teach yourself and don’t wait to be taught.


Baden-Powell of Gilwell, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell – Mario Sica – Nuova Fiordaliso – 2002

What do you think?