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Junior Leader Training -- White Stag Leadership Development

The Hurdle Method

The hurdle method is a hands-on technique for involving youth in developing a desire to learn and to apply new knowledge. We use "hurdles" extensively. These are unexpected challenges presented to the leader and his group for which he has not specifically prepared and which requires them to apply specific leadership skills—and sometimes outdoor—skills. A hurdle is often used to introduce a guided discovery or as an application.

One of the paramount characteristics of a leader is his readiness to act in a novel situation. Unexpected tasks that require efficient group organization provides realistic and valuable practice. The hurdle concept was indirectly described by Lord Robert Baden-Powell, Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting. He referred to the White Stag in his last address at a World Jamboree in 1933, at Gödöllö, Hungary.

"You may look on that White Stag as the pure spirit of Scouting, springing forward and upward, ever leading you onward and upward to leap over difficulties, to face new adventures..."

Hurdles similarly should help learners move forward and upward in their understanding of and ability to apply the leadership competencies.

The hurdle is a method for learning and applying new skills. When instructing participants in new skills, a hurdle:

  1. Confronts the learning group with a planned situation in which the use of the competence to be learned is required, to help the learner:
    • Realize the need for increased competence.
    • Develop an assessment for the learner and manager of learning of the learner's current attitude, skills and knowledge.
    • Create an increased desire to learn.
  2. Introduces the learning program in a workshop or an intensive seminar situation where the competence is demonstrated and practiced.
  3. Applies the learned skill in situations similar to, or identical with, the original situation (see #1 above) so that the group can readily recognize the new way of doing things and acquisition of increased competence.
  4. Confronts the group unexpectedly with novel situations in which the competence is to be used, and required the group to evaluate the application of the competence.
  5. Asks individuals to write measurable and realistic objectives for the application of the newly-acquired competence in and out of White Stag.