6.3.7  Freedom

The principle of freedom states that things freely learned are best learned. Conversely, if the audience is forced to learn something, the more difficult it is for them to learn. Compulsion and forcing are not favorable for personal growth. For example, if you force a family to construct a latrine in their compound, they may not be interested to do that. However if you motivate them to do that through proper education of the family, they are more likely to construct the latrines and use them properly.

  • This has been a long section and there are a lot of things to remember. But, just as with teaching others, you will improve your chances of absorbing all of this by thinking about it again now. So assume that you are planning to conduct a health education session on a new technology, such as how to use a new insecticide for the prevention of malaria in your community. Which of the principles of adult learning would be best for you to use when planning your health education sessions if the following situations were to occur?

    1. People in your village are not willing to learn new skills on malaria prevention.
    2. You have a difficulty in demonstrating the new technology in the real situation in the village because of limited time.
    3. The community has failed to appreciate the benefits of conducting the new prevention methods.
    4. People could not practice the new technology again and again because of the limited samples of the new technology.
    5. People were forced by the kebele leader to apply the new technology, but they didn’t really want to do it.
    6. A few weeks ago, people have heard a false rumour that the new technology has some serious side effects and as a result you have difficulty in removing this misconception.
  • All of these things are examples that you should make notes about — what works and what doesn’t that will help you to build up a broader picture of the patterns of successful learning.

    1. Readiness: that is you need to find a way of helping them get to the stage of being ‘ready’.
    2. Intensity: a demonstration or a role play will increase the intensity.
    3. Effect: you need to make sure they can actually see and understand the good effects of the new technology.
    4. Exercise: even though there is limited technology around you need to find a way for people to be able to use it, possible by time limiting practice sessions by ringing a bell, or by timing people … so that even though they only have limited time they stay interested because they do know they will get a turn.
    5. Freedom: if you can bring about readiness (see 1 above) then you can undo the problems of people feeling forced. If they feel ready they won’t have felt bullied.
    6. Primacy: you may have to do something to try and break the pattern of misconceptions here. Say ‘We are starting again’ or circulate a leaflet that explains how the misconceptions came about.

6.4  Factors affecting learning