A historical analysis of Scouting as the world’s largest youth educational movement, with special attention paid to its global role in citizenship education.
In this well-researched work, Vallory examines the history of Scouting from its beginnings in 1907, when Robert Baden-Powell wrote Scouting for Boys, and how it evolved, quickly including Girl Scouts (or Guides) and spreading to 172 countries or territories by 2011. Very little literature exists on the subject, as Joseph P. Farrell, of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, explains in a useful introduction. This book addresses that gap. Vallory first provides a history of world Scouting and goes on to describe Scouting’s core characteristics, including its definition, purpose, methods, organization and means of differentiation. Finally, Vallory discusses “glocal” citizenship education and the tensions among local, national and global commitments. Extensive notes and a bibliography serve as additional resources. U.S. readers will be especially interested in how the American system differs from that of other countries, with the ideology of sponsoring organizations, such as the YMCA and the Mormon church, conditioning the Scout association. “The controversial manner in which [Boy Scouts of America] executives have dealt with issues concerning homosexuality and atheism is not dissociated from its very unique model of operation,” writes Vallory. (The BSA’s decision to allow gay members, though not leaders, is too recent to be included here.) Via the work’s focus on history, readers can better understand Scouting’s relationship with progressive education. The author makes an excellent case for the importance of Scouting as an education in global citizenship, pointing out, for example, that “individual young scouts in Arab countries were very active [in 2011] around the so-called Arab Spring in Tunisia or Egypt, claiming their role as real citizens, despite the institutional relations their scout associations enjoy with the status quo.” Those who think of Scouting as little more than songs around a campfire will have much to learn from this intelligent, thorough discussion.
A valuable, readable contribution to the history of Scouting.