While Pam goes to Phnom Penh to plan for the upcoming moral values workshop, I am in Chiang Mai, Thailand doing a cram course in CHE teaching technique. CHE stands for Community Health Evangelism, and it is a loosely based organization that was originally developed by Medical Ambassadors International for use in the rural villages of Africa. However, it has long outgrown its parent organization, and to use internet-speak, has gone ‘viral’, being dessiminated now in 90 countries by many who add to its lesson database in much the same way that Wikipedia grows through its contributors.
Its lesson structure would be familiar to anyone practicing modern pedagogy: the teacher is a facilitator; there is no heirachy but rather a collection of colleagues; everyone sits in a circle, no one stands; the emphasis is on relationship; and empowerment of the learner is a priority. Lessons rely on small group interaction and are developed through role-play, stories, and discussions that rely on the knowledge latent in each learner. Learning materials are deliberately restricted to what you would be able to use in a village with no electricity and few resources other than shelter.
My trainers for these two days have been David, Leslie and Andrew, who have graciously adapted their week-long training model to just the few hours that I have had available before I have to teach next week. I am grateful for their expertise and their flexibility. Lessons and discussions have been lively and productive, and the setting – one of Thailand’s more historic and lovely cities – has been an added bonus. I only regret that my compressed timetable has not allowed me to see more of the city and the surrounding countryside.
Tomorrow I will fly to Phnom Penh to join up with Pam, Bill and Sharon to put the final touches on the material that Sharon has prepared for the coming week. I am looking to putting into practice what I have been learning and making a positive impact in the lives of ordinary Cambodians.