2. Teaching methods
Teaching teenagers about HIV/AIDS/STD requires a frank and
explicit discussion of sexuality, modes of transmission and methods of
protection. Many may be embarrassed about discussing sexuality and related
issues. Fortunately, no one has died of embarrassment and we really have no
choice, if we want to protect our children from a deadly disease.
Dont pretend you are not embarrassed when in fact you
are. Admit that it is difficult for you, but that it is too important not to
talk about it. Start by saying it often is an embarrassing topic and when people
are uncomfortable they laugh, make jokes or do other things to cover up their
nervousness. This is very effective for the purposes of class control.
Remember that the students in the classroom have different
experiences in relation to sex: some are sexually active, others are not; some
may be victims of sexual abuse; some had the opportunity to learn about
sexuality with a caring adult or older sibling, others have only
street knowledge; some may have sex to pay for school fees and
uniforms. Your language should not be judgemental: this would make some students
feel excluded, and therefore, not interested in prevention.
Present sexuality in positive terms. Then HIV/AIDS/STD can be
put in the proper context. Explain that prevention of HIV is not just a matter
of protecting yourself but also of protecting other people. The behaviour of
young people just entering their sexually active period may well determine the
future of this epidemic.
This programme is based on participatory methods. Learning about
HIV/AIDS/STD cannot be merely the memorization of new information: the aim of
AIDS education is to promote behaviour that prevents transmission of HIV and
STD. In order for information to have a practical impact on a persons
behaviour, it must be relevant and take into account what that person believes
already. Participatory methods are used to validate the learners
experience and give them confidence, knowledge and skills to question themselves
and others, and take action with regard to themselves and others.
Participatory methods facilitate the process of discovery and
communication between learners. This is especially important in dealing with
such sensitive topics as sexuality and relationships. Unless people are able to
be open and honest about their experience, views and fears, it is difficult for
them to see how AIDS affects them, and what they can do about it personally. All
too often, we think of AIDS as somebody elses problem.
The following methods are suggested:
Discussions can be held with the whole class but they work best
when held in small groups. Group discussion stimulates free exchange of ideas,
and helps individuals to clarify ideas, feelings, and attitudes. Discussion
works very well if it follows some kind of trigger, e.g. a case
study, a story.
When conducting a group discussion, teachers should be aware of
the impact of putting down a students response. By not
accepting responses in a positive way, the teacher may discourage students from
answering further questions. The pacing of questions is also important. Students
should be given time to think about a response but questions should be rapid
enough to keep the pace of the class lively. Try not to ask questions that
result in a one word response, e.g. yes or no. Open,
clarifying questions should be asked so as to encourage students to talk.
Brainstorming is a technique in which every students
response that applies to the topic is acceptable. It is important to not
evaluate ideas but to accept everything and to record each idea on the
blackboard or a piece of paper. Students need to know that they will not be
required to justify or explain any answer. After the period of time for
brainstorming, (which should not be too long), time for reflection or
prioritizing of the list should be allowed. Brainstorming is effective for:
· Sensitive and
controversial issues that need to be explored.
· Encouraging students who are hesitant to enter a
· Gathering a lot of ideas
Role-play involves presenting a short spontaneous play which
describes possible real-life situations. In role-play, we imitate someone
elses character. This is often easier than having to express our own ideas
Role-play is a very effective technique but also a difficult one
to master. The following points may help you to make this method more effective:
· Select volunteers,
or students who are outgoing and energetic.
Involve yourself in one of the main roles.
Give students some lines or a script to get them started.
· Use props - hats, cards with names on,
· Use humour, if
· Pair all students in the class
and have each one play a role, e.g. a father and a son. This will eliminate
embarrassment of being in front of the class.
A case study is a fictional story that allows students to make
decisions about how the person should act or respond and what the consequences
of their actions might be. Case studies allow the students to discuss someone
elses behaviour and, therefore, to avoid revealing personal experiences
that might be embarrassing to them.
The case study can be open-ended, that is, the ending of the
story may be missing. It is up to the students to decide on all possible
conclusions and the consequences and to finally decide on what would be the best
ending for the situation.
Many of the activities contained in the units suggest small
group work. Here are some teaching points if you decide to try small group work.
· It is best to
start with pairs or groups of three or four. This tends to be less threatening
to students. As confidence builds, you can make the groups larger.
· Try to vary the methods used
for forming groups as much as possible and make sure that students frequently
work with different class members. You decide on the groups. It is best not to
let students form their own groups. Those students who are left out (not
selected) will feel inferior and not wanted.
· Try giving group
responsibilities, e.g. recorder, encourager, keeping the group on their task,
time keeper, presenter of groups work, etc.
· Emphasize a sink or swim
together attitude. All members must contribute to the assigned task. The
groups success depends on the individual contribution of each member.
· It may be important at times
to use groups where the sexes are separated rather than mixed.
Story telling is a traditional method of providing information
and discussion topics. Situations in the student activities can be told in a
story-telling format using the local culture as a base for the story.
Fables are stories that have been told to explain how people can
put themselves in danger by acting a certain way. Fables often involve animals
as the characters and, therefore, present a message without students feeling
badly about their behaviour. The stories can be developed to contain health
messages about AIDS and can be followed by a discussion on what was learned and
how things could be changed to make it better.
Expressing health messages or feelings about AIDS through music,
dance or poetry can be very effective. Use tunes that are known locally and have
students put their own words to them. Use dances that everyone knows and put
words to them. The whole group can participate in writing the words.
You can develop your role-plays (from the student activities)
into full plays which you can then act for parents or students from other
schools or other classrooms. At the end of the play, the messages can be
discussed with the audience.
Puppets can do things that actors may find difficult to express
because of cultural reasons. The audience can ask the puppets questions after
the show. This is particularly effective with AIDS issues which can be either
embarrassing or difficult to discuss openly.
Methods for large classes
Teachers coping with very large classes of students are unable
to interact with students to the point where they are able to hold frank, open
discussions. Where there are very large classes, the chalk board is the main
teaching aid. In this situation, the teacher can successfully teach facts about
AIDS using usual classroom techniques. However, information and activities which
involve the students in examining behaviour and experiences have to be organized
largely with the participation of the students. Students can be divided into
groups, and helped by peer leaders (see section 4).
Following the factual lessons about AIDS, students may carry out
group projects, and report back in various ways, e.g. making charts,
illustrations, giving reports through talks, role play, drama, etc. Groups
report their findings to each other and display their work. Possible topics and
· What we know about
· What our families know about
· What the community knows about
· What is done at the health
centre about people with HIV/AIDS/STD: interview with nurses/doctors.
· Group identifies and collects
existing materials, posters, radio/TV plays, to inform people about
· Group finds out which
individuals, groups or organizations exist in the community for giving
information. Each group holds a meeting with one of the identified
· Group carries out opinion
survey and displays results.
· Group identifies the main
recreational activities of peers.
· Group identifies behaviours
which could cause the spread of AIDS among different age groups.
· Groups hold meetings to
· Groups arrange
· Groups write and act various
plays to illustrate the danger of HIV/AIDS in the community.
At the conclusion of such projects, the teacher can arrange for
a special guest to be present at the display of findings.
Often at the end of such projects, students can go on to develop
other themes which further investigate their social circumstances and involve
them in exposing drug and alcohol abuse etc. using the same