Linking geography with life

Susheela Raghavan

Today education has been reduced to a testing tool. All that is required is for students to pass the exams. Such a system of education completely squashes the spirit of inquiry. But that isn’t what education is supposed to do, is it? Let us teach in a way that students actually want to learn and learn out of curiosity.

I have been a teacher of geography and throughout my teaching career I have worked to make geography relevant to my students. Geography is not an isolated subject of study; it is interwoven with other disciplines, our lives, and our very existence. I am sharing here some ideas I have used to make my classes lively and vibrant. They are suitable for the middle school level.

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Ask children to collect random pictures of various advertisements from magazines and newspapers. Once the children collect pictures, organize and categorize them into different heads like agro-based; mineral or metal based; and other services too. Services can be classified under tertiary industry. Draw columns on the board and elicit information from the children to categorize.

After classifying, ask the students to research the types of industries, raw materials used for each product, the places of their origin, in case of crops, the climate and the soils that determine their growth, location, market, etc. Types of industries can further be classified under primary, secondary, and tertiary; large scale, small scale; and public sector or private sector.

You can give this as group work if you have a large class. Groups can make presentations. Say no to Power Point presentations though. Many a time, power point presentations end up being cut, copy, and paste jobs. Creativity and originality are sacrificed for computerized clipart. Children need to work with their hands if learning has to happen. Whether it is drawing or creating clay models, the learning happens more intimately with mediums they can touch.

Some of you may consider this kind of approach time-consuming. Teachers are always racing against time to complete the syllabus. But when such projects are planned properly, you will find that many topics are covered through this exercise and that you actually have a lot of time on hand.

The author was a senior teacher and head of the department in Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Senior Secondary School for 13 years. She then taught in The School, Krishnamurthy Foundation of India for another 13 years till she retired in 1994. She can be reached at susheelaraghavan@gmail.com.

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