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:
- Confronts the learning group with a planned situation in which
the use of the competence to be learned is required, to help the learner:
Introduces the learning program in a workshop or an intensive
seminar situation where the competence is demonstrated and practiced.
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
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.
Asks individuals to write measurable and realistic objectives
for the application of the newly-acquired competence in and out of
- 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.