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( By J.-J. Guilbert )

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For whom is this Educational Handbook intended?

Originally, in 1969, the first edition was written for teachers of the health sciences. Subsequently, however, the Handbook was used above all by hundreds of participants in meetings organized by WHO or held with WHO assistance (educational planning workshops, teaching methodology seminars, etc...).

A survey of 200 users carried out in 1975 revealed the following opinions.

A very small minority (10%) felt that the Handbook should be supplied only to participants in controlled educational activities (workshops, seminars, courses, etc.) or reserved for “teachers of teachers”. The majority, however, felt that dissemination should be as wide as possible, and be directed to all teachers of health sciences at all levels, to health administrators with staff supervision responsibilities, and to students, so as to help them to draw maximum benefit from their learning activities and participate in their organization. Another poll, conducted in 1978, produced very apposite comments from about 100 users in all parts of the world and the consensus was still in favour of the widest possible distribution. Many teachers of the various health professions (dentists, nurses, sanitary engineers, physicians, pharmacists, etc.) have stated that the Handbook answers their needs, but some think that the author's training as a physician has still too often biased the choice of examples. A further effort has been made with this edition to produce a text better suited to everyone working in the health professions. It is, however, very difficult to strike a perfect balance, for many reasons. While it is still true that most of the examples relate to the medical and nursing professions, it is the author's hope that each user of the Handbook will make a personal effort at adaptation, replacing the examples given by other more suitable ones whenever necessary. This has already been done by nutritionists.1

1 Oshaug, A., Benbouzid, D., Guilbert, J.-J. Educational handbook for nutrition trainers. Geneva, World Health Organization, 1993.

Jargon and meaning of words

Many users of the previous editions have asked for special care to be taken to simplify the language used. We hope they will be satisfied. It has not, however, been possible to avoid using certain technical terms (for example: discrimination index). Neither has it been possible to avoid assigning precise and restricted meanings to words which are often used interchangeably in everyday parlance (for example: task, activity and function). In all such cases the words are defined in the Glossary (p. 6.01 et seq.).

It is very important that we should understand one another, and for that we must give identical meanings to the words we use. But it is just as important not to get bogged down in endless discussions. Your aim is not to draft definitions of words for a dictionary.

So please accept the definitions proposed in this Handbook, at least while you are using it.