Hesperian Health Guides
Finding the Best Way to Teach
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Deciding what to teach is important, but just as important is how to teach.
is he talking about?
Learning cannot take place when you use words that people do not understand. They will learn something only when they see how it is related to their lives.
Remember this when you teach about eating good food and keeping teeth clean. Design your own health messages, but be ready to change them if people are not understanding or accepting what you say.
Here are five suggestions for teaching well.
1. Learn first from the people
Get involved in your community’s activities. Learn about people’s problems, and then offer to help solve them. People will listen to you when they know that you care about them and want to help.
Sit and talk with people. Learn about their customs, traditions and beliefs. Respect them.
Learn about their health habits. Improving health may require changing some habits and strengthening others.
Learn also about tooth decay and gum disease in your community.
Make people smile — then look into their mouths.
Find out how many children and adults are having problems with their teeth and gums. Do a survey.
2. Build new ideas onto old ones
People find their own ways to stay healthy. Many traditions are good, helpful, and worth keeping. But some are not.
When you teach, start with what people already understand and are doing themselves. Then add new ideas.
This method of teaching is called ‘association of ideas’. It helps people to understand new ideas because they can compare them with what they already are doing.
In this way people can more easily accept, remember, and do what you suggest.
|A HEALTHY TRADITION||———||builds||NEW IDEAS AND WAYS|
|Sweeping the compound
makes it a clean and
healthy place to live.
|———||in the same way||Brushing the teeth and gums keeps them clean and healthy.|
|A small child cannot find his own lice. Mother knows she must help him.||———||in the same way||A small child cannot see the food on his teeth. He needs help with that also.|
|Different vegetables when planted together — like maize and yams — help each other to grow.||———||in the same way||Eating different kinds of food helps people to grow. Eating them several times a day makes your teeth and gums, as well as your whole body, grow stronger.|