The Hacker Scouts Model

  First, this has been an overwhelming and inspiring time for us. We have received so many emails of support and encouragement, which has meant more to us than we can say. Thank you for your messages that have been powerful, uplifting, hilarious, and sometimes heart breaking. We appreciate all the opinions left in comments, both online and sent to us directly. 

One of the interesting topics that has continued to come up is the idea of our structure and how it related to the BSA. When I say that their model did not influence us, I am not being flip or disingenuous. The idea of scouts has been around longer than the BSA, and will continue to be around as a way to express the exploratory and adventuring spirit of a group. In fact, our interpretation of "scouts" is actually more along the lines of "looking to the future and preparing for what is to come". All scout organizations are in some way inspired by the others. It is inevitable. But I can say with conviction that the BSA model was not in my mind when we laid out the structure of Hacker Scouts. In fact, I can point out many reasons why I would not use their model. But instead, I think it's more productive to talk about what I did think about when forming Hacker Scouts.

What was on my mind was the old method of apprenticeship and mentorship promoted by Guild organizations that have existed since the middle ages, where youth would enter a specialized workshop and learn to master a particular skill under the tutelage of an expert. It was and is this relationship that produced amazing work and a deep understanding of concepts and skills, which is why we have badges to mark an accomplishment, but these are not achieved independently. They are achieved by children working with our mentors to meet the requirements together. That way, kids in our program are able to individualize their learning, mentors are able to adjust to the learning style of each kid, and together they can explore a concept or skill in it's fullest capacity. Indeed, both Sparks and Guild programs are based on my experiences as an educator around how children learn, including a museum education method of object based learning- meaning you can explore an object (idea, skill, etc) in multiple ways that build on the experience of an individual and allow that individual to leave with the knowledge that is most meaningful to him/her. We do not have ranks, although like the inspiration of Guilds mentioned above, there are levels that give each youth the recognition of an accomplishment and the privilege of mentoring and designing activities/projects in their Guild. Our focus is about instilling confidence and self-direction while giving kids the concepts and skills they need for the future. It is about adapting technology, supporting sustainability, celebrating diversity, and building community. We feel this approach instills the innovative and creative spirit that our kids will need to work in jobs that haven't even been invented yet.  Our Open Lab program, which was actually the program that started it all, is about community engagement and experimentation. It gives families the chance to make and take chances together, trying things they might have never tried before, and taking those ideas home to inspire and instigate new interests. The foundation of everything we do honors and caters to the developmental range and needs of the kids we serve. 

We are hopeful that this situation is drawing to a close. Like we have stated before, our mission and our kids are at the center of our thoughts and intentions, and we are trying to resolve this quickly.

Thank you, 

Samantha Cook

Executive Director, Hacker Scouts