BSA image from Las Vegas Area Council used under Fair Usage policies
Shawn Cosgrove wrote and asked recently within a Scouting discussion group on Facebook:
When a Scout or Scouter needs to quiet a room down, and they put their “signs up,” some people have the bad habit of shouting “SIGNS UP.”
What are your ways to discourage this behavior, without being rude? Or are you one of those guilty of saying/yelling it?
I simply raise my hand in the Sign of the Scout and wait. Sometimes I am waiting for a very long time, and there's always that PERSON (that used to be ME!) yelling "SIGN'S UP!"
When I was in the former Presidential Palace (later to become the "Freedom Palace" and the "American Embassy Complex" even later onward), I performed an experiment involving the use of that special sign. The "sign of the Scout" is universal: it is performed with the right hand, extended in a 90-degree angle from one's body, with the three center fingers of the hand outward and with the "pinky finger" held down by the right thumb. There is a diagram of how this should look in the Scout and Scout leaders' handbooks:
The story and posting are here within LinkedIn(TM) as well as on my personal blog.
The "sign" is actually "Scouting shorthand" for "Please be quiet and give me your attention!" It is one of the first things learned by youth members in order to become a Scout; it is something which is long-lasting over the memories and lives of many people because of it's simplicity -- you raise your hand that way, people look at you and stop whatever conversation or work they are engaged in and wait for instruction or information.
I have not found the first time that the Sign of the Scout, as opposed to verbals like "Scouts -- I need your attention please!" or "Shut up!! I'm talking!" (I don't think that was ever done at a Scout meeting...may have happened in a family setting, perhaps...*smiling*) was used. I do know that over time when Scouts "did not catch the clue," that someone yelled "Sign's Up!" and everyone looked at that person and then placed their own hands in the Sign and shut up.
There's somewhere whereby I have a cartoon illustrating a business meeting coming to order with the leader raising his hand in the Scout Sign and everyone looking at him waiting for his words...
I attended a school classroom back in the spring of last year, and the teacher was trying to get everyone to quiet down so she could introduce me. After about two minutes of her invoking "Let's simmer down folks, we've got a visitor here," and similar words, one of the kids in the class simply stood and gave the Sign of the Scout (he was a Cub Scout, so it was the two-fingered sign). I looked at him and then raised my hand in the Sign of the Scout too.
One of the girls in his class poked a boy beside her and said: "What are they doing??" The boy said, "shut up and listen!"
It took about a good two more minutes before there was no sound other than the grass mower outside -- somehow that sound stopped too.
Before the teacher could say anything, a boy in the back of the room simply said "Woooah. Even got the mower to stop. Gotta remember this..."
There's a couple of lessons there, I think. I kept in my mind a couple. Being patient is one of them. Being a model -- or in this case following the model -- is another one of them. Being Helpful without "bogarting" and saying something like "I'll get them quiet for you..." is still another.
The values of Scouting. Timeless.