Week 17: Merit Badges

The stats:

I have studied Yiddish for 120 days
I have studied Yiddish flashcards for a total of 58 hours
I have reviewed 1,656 individual flashcards
Correct learning: 68.92%
Correct young: 72.97%
Correct mature: 82.71%

I end my fourth month very nearly having fallen behind. I am out of new words on my flashcards and must add some new ones immediately, or I'll just start reviewing old words endlessly.

I'd blame my dog again, but the truth is that I blocked out some time to add new words yesterday and then got lost in another project. Or, more properly, it is the same project, but a new aspect of it.

A few posts ago I discussed gamifying my Yiddish learning by rewarding myself for certain accomplishments. I was mostly going to give myself Yiddish pins, but, to this date, I have only found one pin, the one that gave this blog its name.

So I have moved on to another reward. As it happens, my personal aesthetic has always tended toward the precocious and the twee, and so, while I was never a Boy or Girl Scout, I always envied them, or their uniforms, at least. In particular, I envied their sash, which in some circles is called a "brag sash," because it is the part of the uniform reserved for showing off what you have accomplished by way of merit badges.

Before anyone had ever started talking about gamification, the Boys Scouts gamified their program by rewarding scouts with illustrated circular patches -- this was all the way back in 1911, when boys could be rewarded for gaining skills in such areas as bee farming, firemanship, and taxidermy. And as with any game, the more you accomplish, the higher your status -- at 21 merit badges, a scout is eligible to become a coveted Eagle Scout, which itself comes with a special medal and badge you get to wear around.

Additionally, there are ranks within the Boy Scouts, represented by various medals and patches, which is also done in contemporary video games and was almost certainly stolen from the military. I've never been in the Scouts, or the military, so I don't know if higher ranking Scouts get to boss around lower ranking Scouts, by I do know that each rank has its own set of skills that must be mastered before you can move on to the next rank. I would hope that Life Scouts at the very least get to scream at new scout recruits, telling them that their girlfriends are at home with a Flatfoot Jody, composing a Dear John while the recruit trains to parachute jump into hostile territories, but I think I have just seen too many war movies.

Anyway, I intend to steal a lot of this. There are a lot of people nowadays making what are called "spoof merit badges," rewarding such everyday accomplishments as blogging and purchasing things on Etsy. So instead of adding new words to my flashcards, I spend hours looking through the Internet, tracking down merit badges that I can apply to my Yiddish studies, so that I can reward myself when I accomplish things. I will order myself my own sash soon, and so you can expect me to wear it whenever I want to feel proud of myself.

Mostly I plan to reward myself for learning a a certain number of themed words -- say, 100 ways to insult someone. But as I continue, I feel sure I will come up with new ways to reward myself. I've gotten to be pretty good at rewarding myself.