Among all the methods of teaching geography, Project method is the most important which is frequently applicable to teaching-learning process. It is a method which stands against the traditional method of teaching where the theoretical knowledge from the book is accepted 01 received by the students. In propagating this method, American educationist John Dewey did much work.
Project Method Discussed
Prof. Kilpatrick defined a project as "a purposeful activity which proceeds in a social environment." Dr. J.A. Stevenson who perfected it as a method of teaching said "it is a problematic act carried to completion in its natural setting". According to C.V. Good, "A project is a significant unit of activity, having educational value and aimed at one or more definite goals of understanding.
It involves investigation and solution of problems and frequently the use and manipulation of physical materials. It is planned and carried to completion by the pupils and the teacher in a natural life-like manner."
Project may be individual or co-operative, large or small. It may be employed according to the mental age of the pupils. But that must be done under the guidance of an expert.
Psychologically, the project method is based on the principle of learning by doing. It encourages maximum amount of purposeful activity on the part of the pupils. Adopting this method, the heart, head and hand are to be functional. That means both the physical and also the mental powers of the child are to be exercised or utilized.
Basic Principles of Project Method
1. The project must be based on activity-mental or motor.
.2. It must be purposeful in its action.
3. Under the project, the children must accumulate experience-manipulative, concrete or mental.
4. It must provide real experience.
5. It must be useful in nature.
Geographical Project Employed in Schools
Geographical project may consist of running of a vegetable stall or cloth shop, cultivation or ploughing of field, running of a school, an agricultural farm, a post office. Village and town markets are other geographical projects. Another type of project consists in the preparation of models of house, school, railway station etc. For the senior students the following are recommended:
1. Making sand or clay models of different sections of the various river valleys-the Ganges, the Indus etc.
2. Pupils may be encouraged to stage a play showing the life in various regions of the world.
3. A .hill scene i.e., Shimla or Nainital showing railway lines, a bridge, cultivated fields, roads and other important features.
4. Pupils may be asked to prepare economic and distributional maps of the local area.
5. Setting and running a geographical museum is another important and useful project of educational value.
6. Pupils may be encouraged to read papers and organise excursions.
7. Pupils may cultivate a vegetable or a fruit garden.
Merits of Project Method
1. As it is based on the psychological principle, it is only for the development of the inherited traits of the child providing the most natural conditions.
2. Applying this method, education gets more meaning and value in comparison to the traditional methods of teaching.
3. It develops social values like co-operation, fellow-feeling and brotherhood.
4. As it involves manual activities, it emphasizes the dignity of labour.
5. The students by this method, understand the importance of learning by doing and direct experience of things.
6. This method employs the sense and not mere words or symbols.
7. It trains the pupils in the exercise of invention and self- responsibility.
8. The child gets training in research work through this method.
9. The child derives satisfaction when he achieves something by his own efforts.
10. Lastly, the students can evaluate their work.
Demerits of Project Method
Sometimes efforts are wasted in an attempt to base the whole of geographical syllabus on projects. This is not very practicable in real sense. The main drawbacks of the method are:
2. It requires more money to be spent and this is very difficult to manage.
3. Trained and qualified teachers to put this method into practice are not available.
4. All schools do not have resources to use this method.
5. Projects are difficult to devise for all stages of teaching.