Lessons learned from using Pathways since its inception – A Distinguished Toastmaster’s Perspective

Fellow Toastmasters,

This blog post completes my elective project (“Writing a Compelling Blog”) for Level 4 of my “Team Collaboration” path. I might still post from time to time, either about Pathways, Toastmasters International’s new education program or other Toastmasters-related topics. However, you will not see new blog posts as frequently as in the last two weeks.

In closing (for this project), allow me to ponder the pros and cons of Pathways. Please remember, this is my personal opinion and you are very welcome to disagree.

Here is what I (mostly) like about the revitalized education program, known as Pathways:

  • Base Camp, the online platform that supports the Pathways program has improved vastly since its beginnings. Old Town Toastmasters is part of District 27. Our district was one of three Toastmasters International districts in which Pathways was rolled out as a pilot program in January 2017. If you find Base Camp and everything Pathways-related clunky and incomprehensive now, you should have seen it back then!
  • The projects in the Toastmasters curriculum have become more diverse with the introduction of Pathways. The Legacy Program used to have only a few projects that were not simply prepared speeches. In the Communication track I can remember panel discussions, workshops and coordinating a series of related speeches on one topic. There were role play scenarios for the “Interpersonal Communications” manual, but most basic and advanced projects were indeed prepared speeches. Now we can get credit for writing blogs, recording podcasts, building a social media presence (I am not sure I like this one.), devising public relations strategies and much more.
  • Moving resources such as evaluation forms to the electronic format, adds a “modern” aspect to the Toastmasters experience. No more forgetting your manuals, forgetting to return manuals after you completed an evaluation. Of course, you can still forget to email the filled-out evaluation form back to the speaker. (You know who you are: I apologize, I know I still owe you an evaluation. You will get it as soon as I am done with this elective project! I promise!!!) No longer using paper manuals also saves trees! You think I am kidding? Today, on May 11, 2021 Toastmasters International has 364,000 members according to its website. This would be a minimum of 728,000 manuals. A conservative estimate is that a manual on average had 10 pages. We are saving at over 7 million pieces of paper!
  • It is easier to get your DTM. In Pathways you need to give fewer speeches/complete fewer projects to earn your DTM than you needed to give speeches in the Legacy Program. (I debated a long time if I should put this in the plus or in the minus column. However, I’ve been a VPM a few times during my Toastmasters journey, I believe making it easier to get your DTM is a valuable recruiting tool for new members. BUT I WILL ALWAYS BE PROUD THAT I ACHIEVED MY DTM THE OLDFASHIONED WAY!!!)

Now the downsides:

  • In my opinion, Pathways misses the mark with the early levels. Nothing beats a good thorough education in public speaking like learning how to construct speeches. With the 10 speech projects in the Competent Communicator manual you learned all the basics. Now you can complete a whole path, or two, without ever being instructed step-by-step how to organize your speech (formerly speech #2) or “get to the point” (formerly speech #3). Some of these basic skills are now buried in elective projects in Level 3)
  • Some of the electives (and they are more or less the same in all paths; see my blog post from April 26, 2021) are of questionable value. What if someone does not want to bare their feelings online? Did you ever wonder why my blog posts are signed the way they are? Not every Toastmasters member has an interest in or needs to know how to devise PR strategies or manage online meetings. Admittedly, the latter has become more important over the last year, but hopefully Toastmasters International did not revamp its education program with a pandemic in mind.
  • What happened to the Leadership track from the Legacy Program? It would be great if members could still get credit for projects that directly support their club. Please reinstate projects like organizing a speech contest at the club level, holding a membership drive or mentor a new member (as part of a path)!

As with every good evaluation, I will end on a positive note. Even though we now have Pathways and the Legacy Program is behind us, Toastmasters still is a great resource to improve your public speaking and leadership skills. Toastmasters know how to think on their feet and improvise. Let’s do so until the positive aspects from the Legacy Program have been incorporated into Pathways. Rome was not built in a day, but Toastmasters is still “Where Leaders are Made”!

 

Thank you for reading, I hope you find some of the tips and tricks I described helpful.

Good luck and enjoy your Pathways journey!

Your friendly neighborhood DTM.

 


Previous blog posts in this series
  1. A Distinguished Toastmaster’s Introduction to Pathways (April 12, 2021)
  2. How to choose your Path? – A Distinguished Toastmaster’s Perspective (April 26, 2021)
  3. How to navigate Base Camp? – A Distinguished Toastmaster’s Perspective (May 2, 2021)
  4. “Paths and Learning” in Base Camp – A Distinguished Toastmaster’s Perspective (May 3, 2021)
  5. Where to record your meeting roles? – A Distinguished Toastmaster’s Perspective (May 6, 2021)
  6. How can you use Base Camp to support OTHERS? – A Distinguished Toastmaster’s Perspective (May 8, 2021)
  7. Feedback, badges and documents – A Distinguished Toastmaster’s Perspective (May 10, 2021)