We already mentioned the need that most of us have to learn through visual aid, more importantly through demonstration.
A lot of people cannot learn through a book or written instructions. We often need/want visual aids. Think about the booming of step-by-step photo-instructions on the internet, and even more about the ever increasing numbers of video tutorials on Youtube. But even with pictures or video on the internet, some do need a “physical” demonstration. One of the reason is back to the access to internet (which we have touched upon when talking about communication lines): either for cost, practicality or “education”.
But there are also other reasons for demonstrations: some teachings cannot be done with mere words or drawing/pictures over a sms or email (or whatsapp or messenger or whatever form of communication we have nowadays). One reason can be the mastering of the English language (from both sides) but also the complexity of the teaching. Sometimes it is only a perceived complexity, but this prevents from learning/teaching.
There is also the “issue” of local environment: not one size fits all – and so, whatever we want to teach or demonstrate needs to be adapted to local conditions and culture. And we cannot adapt if we do not know well what is the current environment. We also sometimes test and try the general framework and adapt depending on the initial results. And this is not possible from 8’000 km away.
Some examples from our experience highlight the demand/need for face to face presence on the ground.
When I first did the cooking demonstration in Zimbabwe, this was because I was asked to show people during my previous stay. When I did, I took pictures of all the steps, wrote the instructions and posted them… but before I even left, I was asked to come back and teach (demonstrate) to more groups on site… no matter how I can give those recipes, there is a demand for a face-to-face demonstration. Most people will just not follow the step-by-step internet instructions.
During the same demonstration, it was because of the success of the Mango Atchar that we (I) decided to try with another local ingredient (kapenta). It could have failed… but it was a success! We adapted to local environment, which we would not have thought about should we have been away.
When I went back to Tanzania, it was not just to bring the drawings for the cooker: I could have emailed them over from anywhere in the world (they are actually available in French on the internet)… I understood the drawings, I could explain what was needed, I could make a small mock-up to help with the visual, I could go around to find a production place and negotiate costs… I could also help with fixing the original cooker…. At the same time, I also tried to teach how to do all this.
None of this would be possible when sitting in an office thousands of kilometres away.
But then, some might wonder why there is this need… we do have a few ideas to answer this question and we will talk about them in future editions.