Monday, 15 March 2010

How do you explain fermenting goats' milk into cheese to forty children who don't speak your language?

The answer could be simply, or with the help of Albert Mehrabian and he didn't even know he was there.

Sweet local speciality biscuits softened them up.
Goats fascinated them, despite the smell.
The kids they held were that mix of cute and mischievious while fluffy chicks had them eating out of the palm of their hands whilst eating out of the palms of their hands!
Then Madame invited everyone to come inside and stand around her kitchen table so she could explain about fermentation and maturation in the language her audience could manage: "Good Morning. How are you?" in.

What followed was ten minutes of voice 50%, tone 38%, and words 7% - a "Show and Tell" and chip in when the Spirit of Understanding moves within you/Cloze comprehension exercise. They understood every word she said and the thousands of other words she didn't.

If one of us had been fluent in French the children would have lost rather than gained from this situation. In this process, they were as essential as Madame or the rennet to the milk in the manufacture of the cheese.

Now, for the writerly part:

I've read books and articles about the need to "show" rather than "tell" what is happening but I walked through the 3-D version while forty children interacted with their learning.

I think I learned to trust the reader to understand.


  1. What a great analogy! Kids are so amazing with their zest for animals and learning new stuff! :)

  2. Wow that was cool. Kids do have amazing observation skills.