Maps are perhaps the most important tools of a geographer. The value of maps sin geography teaching cannot be overestimated. They record definite facts of positions, relief, climate, vegetation, materials and their distribution broadly over the earth, in continents, countries, states.
In fact they are useful for the laymen too. For an intelligent student of geography maps are no less than mines of information. Intelligent and well-planned assignments are a key to this hidden treasure of information and knowledge for these pupils.
Physical wall-maps of each of the continent and those of India and Orissa are necessary to find place in the geography room. Political wall-maps may also be used when desirable. Wall-maps are helpful, be cause the whole class can look at them.
Wall maps in the geography laboratory should be exhibited by using a specially constructed wooden frame. Hanging of the maps in front of the black-board and throwing them over chairs or certain other similar frames may wear them out. The teacher must supplement the use of wall-maps by drawing sketch- maps on the blackboard, whenever a particular item has to be illustrated, viz. physical features, rainfall, seasonal temperatures, mineral products, vegetation, important towns, harbors, population areas, railway lines, air-routes etc.
Pupils should be asked to use atlases and outside class. They should make it a habit in finding out physical features, the rivers, towns, capitals, harbors etc. in their atlases while receiving lessons in the class. It should be binding on every pupil to posses his or her atlas. These are bound to produce the most desired effects. It is essential that education in secondary schools should involve the use of maps as a source of geographical information. The methods of teaching geography in schools should lay emphasis on the wider use of map.
In short, maps are the essential tools for the teacher. By these, the teacher can focus the attention of the whole class and can illustrate better than by oral description.
Although maps are limited in scope, yet they are of immense use in the teaching and learning of geography It was strongly recommended by a noted educationist, Sir Hadford Mackengie that a map is a tool of the geographer and therefore, no lesson in geography can be called complete without the use of a map. A geography teacher should realize that the lessons without a map are meaningless. Rather, more can be expressed in a single map: than by volumes of speech or writing.
Categories of Maps
(a) Physical Maps:
Bright colored physical maps are introduced to pupils in the teaching of geography. In these maps, low and plain lands are shown by green color; the uplands by yellow; mountains by brown, lakes, seas and oceans in blue color. Even the pupils from back benches can understand the meaning of such maps. They will supplement the correct information with the help of their atlases.
(b) Political Maps:
Political maps generally indicate the boundaries of Units with major towns, capital cities, ports and harbors, roads, railways, air-routes etc. The wall-maps may not help in locating places from the back benches. The teacher should help students in reading their atlases.
(c) Blackboard Maps:
In order to save the trouble of drawing on the blackboard, these blackboard cloth maps are good substitutes. These include outline maps of continents of the world, countries-specially of Asia and Europe and the outline maps of various states of India.
(d) Picture Maps:
Young pupils can appreciate picture maps better. In these maps the outline of a continent or a country is drawn and the important features are represented by pictures, such as mountain ranges by brown lines, desert scenery by a picture of a camel in a yellow background. Industrial centers, School, Colleges and other institutions can be represented in pictures for a better understanding to look at the maps and to learn. Even a simple picture with symbols does convey some Geographical ideas.
(e) Survey Maps:
These are generally drawn on scale of 1" to a mile or a number of miles and are published by the Map Survey of India. These maps are available with the Office of Deputy Director, Map Publication, Maps Record and Issue Office, Survey of India, Calcutta.
(f) Memory Maps:
An atlas is a great necessity for every school child. There are a number of atlases with colored maps of both physical and political features of countries and continents and the world at large. The School Atlas-Survey of India. The Oxford School Atlas; Bartholomew's Indian School Atlas are some of the reliable atlases for students in Indian Schools for learning geography. Atlas is a useful teaching aid. It is highly desirable that each pupil should have a copy of the School Atlas. All the maps should be clear and without excessive detail, which may hinder pupils rather than help them. The atlases should be constructed with due regard to teaching requirements of students. They should not be relatively too costly such that a large number of students can buy atlases.