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By Phil Bartle, PhD

2. Develop Your Own Methods and Content Based on Empowerment Principles:

The two main questions you must ask when planning, devising or designing a literacy curricula, are "What is to be taught (content)?" and "How is it to be taught (method)?"

The content of your training should be words, phrases and sentences that are relevant to the situation of the participants. Knowing how to write the names and prices of various sea fish may be very relevant to people in a community next to the ocean which is mainly engaged in fishing, but not so useful to a nomadic cattle community on the savannah. That community would be more interested in names of different kinds of camels or cattle, depending upon what is in their herds. Residents of an urban slum would be interested in local markets, costs of local transport, or inexpensive entertainment, rather than the details of either fishing or herding.

Since we all learn better by doing that listening, find ways to get your participants to participate in an exercise in identifying words that are most relevant to their lives and conditions.

In a fishing community, for example, a good exercise, with four to eight participants, might be to make a field trip to the shore where the fish is brought in and sold, and prepare a list of different names of fish species, sizes, and prices. This could be made into a poster or booklet by the group, and it could have obviously practical uses. Use your imagination.

An urban group might make a different type of field trip, identifying different signs: store front signs, traffic signs, directional signs, street name signs.

Note that the method here is a form of "doing," where the participants participate in doing something practical or useful, rather than listening to lecture or watching a presentation. As in the gym, exercise (doing) produces strength.

Notes on all of the above (long document)

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