Small roadmap to spice up your geography class

Geography is one of the oldest disciplines in the world. Rich contributions from Eratosthenes, Ptolemy, Al-Masudi, Al-Biruni, Ibn Battuta, Ibn Khaldun and later by Carl Ritter, Emanuel Kant (yes the philosopher), Vidal la Blache and many more made it a discipline to investigate and unravel the mysteries. The classroom teaching of geography almost always fails to capture that awe of this wonderful subject.

Geography is not just information, a widely held misconception. It is about investigation, research and the study of human relationship with nature. Unfortunately we, the teachers (with very few exceptions, of course) confine our discussions at the facts and definition level. The story of geography doesn't stop at collecting that information. Infact it starts from there. We investigate and verify. After that, using that knowledge we try to make sense of our surrounding. In classrooms, we couldn’t tell the daily relevance. We can not simply state its application. It has to come through doing.

The missed aspect of geography is, it is more about practical thinking than feeding facts nonstop.  Thinking about space and direction. Yes, I am talking about the maps and the study of it. How often we encounter students (& teachers in many cases) where they fail to initiate a discussion on the sense of direction when there were no compasses or any fancy instruments. Geography is not a classroom-confined subject. Learners need to go out. Draw maps of their classrooms, of their school, of their towns, of their homes… The sense of space and direction, the sense of scale, the sense of using colour codes and various symbols to depict their surrounding reality is what the information demands of them, rather than just memorization of it. It helps them reconnect the concepts with their daily life.

When we scale up these concepts, we encounter one of the hard spots of geography teaching, namely, space geography. It invites the learners to add things up and see the big picture. The ideas of longitude, latitude, equator, night sky watching, astronomical distances, space folklore of constellations….which spices up any geography class.

It is high time you persuade and create a geography lab to help further investigations. What do you say?

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