Allow me to introduce you to our Learning Technologies team here in Costa Rica.
MAF-Learning Technologies has been working in Costa Rica in some form or another since 2004. We became officially registered as an organizational entity in Costa Rica in 2009, and the current members of the team have been together for well over a year. We've partnered with over 30 organizations offering education and biblical training to both mainstream church leaders and peripheral leaders who are discipling people tucked away in some of the most remote parts of the country. Our team has supported projects in 16 different countries, mainly in the Spanish-speaking Americas.
I was excited when the pilot announced we were preparing to land. It was 12 years ago our family departed from Irian Jaya to return to the States. Now I was returning to the same island but on the other side in the country of Papua New Guinea. We landed in the capitol city of Port Moresby. Right away I could see a big difference from Irian Jaya. PNG, as it is called, has had a long relationship with Australia and many imports from Australia. Yet, at the same time, some things are very much the same. The main thing is the Papuan people.
The MAF-LT Oral Strategies Workshop took place last week at the Riverside Hotel in Boise. The goal of the workshop was to equip participants to share the Gospel through the use of a storytelling model called Bible Storytelling & Discussion.
In an oral strategies video our team has been working on, Regina describes a piece of candy to her friend Laura. When Jim comes into the picture, Laura has not yet tried the candy. She attempts to tell him what she heard from Regina but she struggles to remember and repeat what she was told. Then she takes a bite of the candy. It’s like the lights come on! Now she gets its! Now that she’s tried it and experienced it for herself, she easily expresses—in her own words—how good the candy is.
Regina & I are in Shell, Ecuador to do two workshops. I act as a reporter for the first, and an instructor for the second.
The first workshop, sponsored by HCJB Global, aims to train 'Trainers of Trainers' who work in community development. Specifically, they want to expose these leaders to Participatory Learning. Regina has been training church leaders to use these adult learning techniques for years. Now she's helping Life Water present these methods to HCJB's Community Development department.
Sierra Leone revealed something when our Air France flight from Paris stopped first in Conakry, Guinea. Three-quarters of the passengers got off the plane - including the crew who would overnight there before returning to France. A rested crew took over, flew an additional 40 minutes south to drop us off in Freetown, Sierra Leone, then headed north for home.
The reality that 2/3 of the world’s adults don’t, OR WON’T LEARN FROM READING, has challenged one of MAF-LT’s clients to move their leadership training materials from 6th grade to 2nd grade level. A common mistake made by literates when simplifying training for these “Oral Learners” is the temptation to “dumb down” the material. After all, what can they teach if they are limited to a 2nd grade vocabulary?
But the adults they are working with are not second graders. Many are intelligent men and women who may be perceptive believers. As Oral Learners they just don’t have the ability (or desire) to use written material. They don’t divide life into abstract categories like “love” or “forgiveness.” Neither did Jesus. He told memorable stories, like the Prodigal Son!
Since an Oral Learner’s capacity for learning is limited largely to memory, the challenge is to make important lessons more memorable. Here are some ideas: