1. Give out the session notes from Unit 12.
  2. Give out programme for Unit 13. In Unit 11 we talked about private troubles and public issues.  We are going to expand on this in this unit.
  3. Community development involves helping people to identify important issues. However ‘issues’ are not always obvious.  In this unit we will be looking at why some private troubles are not easy to share - not so ‘visible’ - or easily talked about. Sometimes there are hidden issues that are harder to get to grips with. We will also be looking at and trying out some methods used in popular education that help people identify and articulate issues that are of concern to them.



1. Finding out what people are concerned about, in relation to health, is not always as easy as it sounds.  Some issues are ‘on the surface’ and others take much longer to surface.  In this exercise you will be exploring some of the reasons why individual troubles might remain below the surface.

2. Working in pairs, ask people to choose an issue or problem that might be hard to talk about openly. Emphasise that this does not need to be a personal issue/

Why might this be hard?

3. With the whole group, brainstorm the reasons (perhaps taking a key word e.g. ‘embarrassed’) and write these up on a flipchart.  Group them into any similar categories.

4. If people get stuck, use the following checklist:

Incontinence, sexual problems, mental health problems, AIDS and infertility could be seen as embarrassing or slightly shameful.  Some issues, such as sex, might challenge deeply felt religious or cultural beliefs. You might live in a small community where everyone knows everyone else’s business and it’s hard to talk without everyone knowing.

If people experience racism, or are treated without respect by a receptionist, or professional worker, they might feel that it is their own fault or only to be expected, or that it is ‘normal’. They might feel they should not complain.

You might think you are the only one to feel this way, because the problem is not discussed openly. There simply may not be the opportunities to talk about things that make us feel uneasy. Perhaps our friends, families or social networks don’t seem to talk about things like this. There might be no place to raise such topics.

In small rural areas or island communities, there might be a fear of lack of confidentiality - worrying that everyone would know your problem.



1. Give out Handout A.

Talk through C.Wright Mill’s ideas and stop at various points for discussion. Remind people about the process of community development - how we would try and listen to individual people who have private troubles and then help them come together with others who have the same problem. Talking and working out what is going on - analysing the situation - transforms the private trouble into a public issue. Working collectively - deciding on how to tackle the issue together - is part of community development work.

2. Return to the list of ‘private troubles’ discussed in Exercise 1. Ask group members in pairs to think about how these ‘private troubles’ may translate into ‘public issues’ as in C.Wright Mill’s example. Facilitate feedback highlighting the common themes that come through from the discussion.

3. Point out that in groups we need to be aware of values held by group members – we also need to give people time and space to identify what are the principles that underpin the way they live their lives and how they feel about things. Recognising this and making clear what our values are is an important starting point in community development.



1. As we explored in Unit 5, sometimes we don’t bring things up because our view is different from the ‘dominant’ view.

2. Ask if any of the group could give any examples of a time when their view was not acceptable or seen as important.

4. For example, if the pills we are taking make us feel weird and we think they are making us giddy, we might say this to the doctor, but if he or she says no, they can’t be doing that, we might feel that the doctor must be right, because you don’t know what’s in the pills.

5. So the view of more powerful people is usually given more weight. This means we often push down our own thoughts and ideas and think they are not worth much. Our experience of school might have taught us that our ideas were not worth much, that what was important was what other people - important people - had done and said.

6. Split the group into 3’s or 4’s. Ask people to discuss and note down some thoughts they have about education. Look for both positive and negatives

7. Bring the group back together and note the key points up on a flipchart.

8. Introduce the popular education ideas of Paulo Freire.

Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educator and philosopher who had a particular way of thinking about education.  His ideas have had an important influence on community health workers in South America, in Africa and on educators in many parts of the world.  In Scotland, his ideas have been picked up and used by many people involved in community and adult education.

9. Give out Handout B.

Read through the handout together slowly, taking one section at a time. Do any of these ideas touch a chord with people?

Compare these ideas with the group’s own experiences of education. Take time to help people absorb some of these ideas.


HAVING A GO (45 minutes)

Many of the methods/techniques that have been developed by Freire and other popular educators can still prove extremely useful means to enable people to articulate their concerns and issues. In this session we’re going to look at a couple of methods and have a go at trying them out.

The ‘But Why’ method

1. This was developed by David Werner, a health worker in Africa. It followed the following process:

The child has a septic foot. But why? Because she stepped on a thorn. But why?
Because she has no shoes. But why has she no shoes? Because her father cannot afford to buy her any
But why can he not afford to buy her shoes? Because he is paid so little as a farm labourer. But why is he paid so little? Etc.

2. Split the group into pairs to try out this method. Each person should think of an everyday situation in their own lives e.g. ‘My child was late for school yesterday’ or ‘I feel hassled today’. Their partner should then ask why, this should be answered, their partner should ask why again and so on until they can go no further or they say ‘just because, right!’.

3. Bring the group back together, ask how far people got with it, did it lead to unexpected reasons for the particular situation. Children are very good at this technique – how many people have resorted to ‘just because’ when subjected to this by their own children! Remind the group of the ‘Looking Upstream’ exercise in Unit 1 and also the material in Unit 11 – this is a very good technique for identifying what issues lie behind or underneath the problems that are on the surface.

Codification and decoding

1. Codification was a technique developed by Freire principally within his literacy work. It uses visual representations of significant situations in the lives of people and normally takes the form of sketches or photographs. It can also take the form of a tableau/living picture exercise where some participants create a human sculpture to represent the significant situation that they wish to describe. The participants then describe what they see, and go deeper into it discussing how elements in the picture or tableau relate to each other or to the whole scene. The role of the facilitator is to encourage this process by asking questions, listening and sometimes challenging. This process of description developing into reflection and analysis is called decoding.

2. Split the group into 2 smaller groups. Each small group should think of a significant situation that they wish to represent. This may be something discussed on the course, taken from personal experience, or from within their own community. Each group in turn should then form a living picture/ human sculpture to represent this. The members of the other group should then be asked to describe what they see and develop some deeper analysis of what is happening in the tableau. This can then be checked with the tableau group to see if their description and analysis fits with what they intended to portray. The groups should then swap round and the exercise be repeated.



By this time the Community Research Projects should be well underway. All the participants should spend this part of the session in updating on progress and identifying what still needs to be done.


(15 minutes)

1. Go over the key points from the session referring to flipcharts if necessary:

  • Getting below the surface
  • Private troubles and public issues
  • Popular Education – Freire
  • Useful methods/techniques – ‘having a go’.

2. Give out the Learning Log for this unit and allow time for participants to fill it in before they leave.