BSA’s EDGE Method: The Best Way To Teach New Scouting Skills


The EDGE method is one of the most important teaching methods to know, not only for leadership in Scouting but also for teaching anything in life. From simple tasks like tying a knot, to more intensive tasks like tying a splint for a broken arm, the EDGE method is a surefire teaching process that’ll help your fellow scouts to learn quickly and thoroughly!

PS. This article was written by Eagle Scout, Kevin A and edited by Cole 🙂

I’ve personally used the EDGE method in many different ways on my path to the Eagle Scout rank. On campouts, I would use this method to teach other scouts how to set up their tents, cook meals, and even learn the rules to fun camp activities

You’re might be wondering what the EDGE method actually is, As described in the Scouts BSA handbook, the EDGE method is a 4-step teaching technique that involves: 

  1. E: Explaining the task 
  2. D: Demonstrating the steps of the task 
  3. G: Guiding the scout through the steps of the task 
  4. E: Enabling the scout to do the task on their own 

We’ll get into each of the aspects of the EDGE method in more detail later on. For now though, just know that each part of the EDGE method plays a critical role in the teaching of tasks and concepts! In order to teach a scout well, you’ll need to follow this teaching method thoroughly.

For all you visual learners out there, I’d recommend watching the video (2:08) below for a quick overview of the EDGE method. However, in this article, I’ll be giving you even more helpful EDGE method tips and tricks that I learned on my journey to Eagle. So, keep reading!

Why Do Scouts Learn The EDGE Method? 

Well, first of all, the EDGE method is the tried-and-true teaching method, and is one of the most effective ways to teach a skill! Furthermore, you’ll need to demonstrate the EDGE method at least two times if you want to earn the prestigious Eagle Scout rank. Here are the requirements:

Tenderfoot Requirement 8: “Describe the steps in Scouting’s Teaching EDGE method. Use the Teaching EDGE method to teach another person how to tie the square knot.” (Link to Cole’s Tenderfoot Rank Guide)

Life Requirement 6: “While a Star Scout, use the Teaching EDGE method to teach another Scout (A Scouting rank requirement skill) so that the Scout is prepared to pass those requirements to their Scoutmaster’s satisfaction.”

As you can see, not only do you have to learn the EDGE method to teach a scout how to tie a square knot — You’ll also need to use it to teach a scout (depending on what you choose) how to cook, do first aid, or even demonstrate basic outdoor/camping skills

You’ll also most likely be using some form of the method to teach your patrol how to do tasks throughout your Scouting career. As you get older, you’ll be expected to teach other scouts a variety of things that are not listed as official requirements! P.S This is how you learn true leadership! 🙂

E: Explaining the Task 

The first step of the EDGE method is to explain. Explaining the task is important for letting scouts learn some background around what they’re doing. Beforehand, it’s important that scouts have a complete understanding as to why what they’re learning is important. When Explaining the task, some keys to include are: 

  • What you will be doing. 
  • Why you will be doing it. 
  • Using a visual aid to help your explaination make more sense.

Here’s an example of what not to do: The SPL comes up to you and asks “Hey, could tie this square knot for me?” They then leave you to do it. Naturally, you would think to yourself, “why am I doing this?”

It is important to know why you’re doing something because it’s generally bad practice to follow orders without question. Also, you should know why it’s important that you tie a square knot, specifically. Why that knot?

Here’s how explaining should be done: If instead, your SPL said “Hey, could you please tie this square knot? I need to join these ropes together so that I can have more people help me move this log.” Then, you would understand not only why you are doing it, but also why it’s important you tie it! 

Being able to explain why a task is being done will also set you up to use the technique in other instances, as a future leader. For example, if your SPL explained to you the first time why you needed to tie the square knot, the next time you need a longer rope for something you would know to use the square knot!

An Eagle Scout’s tips for a good Explanation

  • Give a short explanation on why it’s important to learn the task 
  • Talk about how the task can be used in other situations 
  • Talk about times you have done the task and how successful or unsuccessful it was

D: Demonstrating The Steps of The Task 

The second step of the EDGE method is to demonstrate. Demonstrating the task is important for the scout to see the correct way a skill is performed. Some keys to include while Demonstrating a skill to another scout are: 

  • Showing them the correct way to do the task. 
  • Talking to them throughout the task.
  • Help them to learn and see what the correct way looks like.

Going off our previous example, imagine your SPL comes up to you and explains why he needs a square knot from you but just leaves you to it. If you’re not familiar with the knot, in most cases you’d probably tie the square knot incorrectly. 

Here’s how demonstrating should be done: If instead, your SPL demonstrated how to tie a square knot and talked you through the steps thoroughly, you’d probably understand how to tie it correctly! Furthermore, you’d also know what to look for in a correct square knot. 

Demonstrating how to do something correctly is necessary if you want to become an effective leader. Remember, the scouts you’ll be teaching often do not know what is correct and what is not. It’s better to assume that your student scouts are a blank slate and need to learn the task from scratch!

An Eagle Scout’s tips for a good Demonstration:

  • Go through the process at regular speed and show the end product so that the scouts have an idea of what to look for.
  • If possible, involve two people: one demonstrating and the other talking through the steps while they are happening. 

G: Guiding the Scout Through the Steps of the Task 

The third step of the EDGE method is to guide. Guiding the scout through the task is important for the scout to understand how the correct outcome was achieved. Some keys to include while guiding a scout through the steps of a skill are: 

  • Talking them through each step. Slowly. 
  • Assisting them whenever they seem to be going off track. 
  • Having patience. 

Here’s an example of what not to do: Imagine your SPL comes up to you, explains why he needs a square knot, demonstrates what it looks like, but then walks away! He only does the process once and it was too quick for you to see each step. Without being guided, you’ll most likely tie the knot slowly and have an incomplete knot. 

Here’s how guiding should be done: Your SPL guides you through the steps of tying a square knot and provides help whenever you come about problems. When being guided, you can also verify each step with them to make sure you are doing it correctly!

Guiding another scout through a task is one of the greatest tests as a leader. Not only do you have to know how to do the task yourself, but you’re also tested on how well you can help someone who doesn’t know anything about the task! Guiding a scout through the task is one of the best tools you have to help a scout learn how to do a task correctly.

An Eagle Scout’s tips for good Guidance:

  • Help each scout individually; be there for them throughout the entire guidance process so that they can ask questions when needed. 
  • Practice guiding a person who already knows the task so that they can point out any areas where your guidance could be improved. 
  • Have visual aids that can help show during each step of the process.

E: Enabling a Scout to do it on Their Own 

Last but certainly not least, enabling a scout to do the task on their own empowers them to continue to produce the correct results without your help! Some keys to include while enabling a scout are: 

  • Asking the scout to do it on their own in front of you.
  • Have them do the task in a related (but easy) way. 
  • Test them again at a later date.

Here’s an example of what not to do: The SPL comes up to you, explains why he needs a square knot, demonstrates how to tie the knot, guides you on how to tie a proper square knot, and leaves you to it. You might be able to do the task properly at that moment, but you might also feel like you are doing it incorrectly and/or feel nervous about completing the task. 

Here’s how guiding should be done: If instead, the SPL asked you to tie it again in front of them and reaffirmed to you that it was the right knot, you would feel much more confident about applying it to the task you are doing. Additionally, if the SPL asked you to use the knot in another way, they’d further enable you to use it on your own in the future!

Enabling another scout to do a task on their own is one of the toughest parts of the EDGE method. Properly enabling is a balance between helping them be successful but not helicoptering over them while they’re working. The best thing you can do as a teacher is to encourage them and always be there for help in case they need it. 

An Eagle Scout’s tips for good Enabling:

  • Allow them to repeat the skill and use it in new ways until they’re comfortable with what they’ve learned.
  • Quickly recap the importance of the task and the process of completing the task. 
  • Encourage them to try and use the EDGE method to teach the skill to a fellow scout! 

Conclusion 

The EDGE method is crucial for teaching skills in Scouting because it can be easily used in so many different ways. Even during my Eagle Scout project, I can’t even count how many times I used the EDGE method to teach scouts what to do!

Now that you know the ins-and-outs of the EDGE method, congratulations! Try and apply this system to different tasks and skills so that you can learn how to teach anything well. As I mentioned before, the EDGE method is one of the most helpful methods to use when teaching another scout!

One thing to keep in mind though is that every scout is different. Some may need to spend more time on different steps in the EDGE method. This is where your expertise as a leader who has used the EDGE method before comes in! You’ll be able to adapt to make sure the scout learns the best way that they possibly can. 🙂

Kevin here — Thanks for reading my first article on ScoutSmarts! I am going to be writing a few more in the coming weeks, so be on the lookout for some new articles from me soon. Until next time, be the best scout you can be! 

Cole

I'm constantly writing new content for this website because I believe in Scouts like you! Thanks so much for reading, and for making this world a better place. Until next time, I'm wishing you all the best on your journey to Eagle and beyond!

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