The word “heuristic” is derived from the Greek word heurisco” meaning “I find out” and the “Heuristic Method” is one in which the pupils are left to find out things for themselves. Children are placed, as far as possible, in the position of discoverers and instead of being told the facts; they are led to find out things for themselves.
Through this method the pupils are made to learn. The Heuristic method was, for the first time, coined by Dr. H. E. Armstrong (1888-1928), Professor of Chemistry at City and Guild Institute Kensington. This method of teaching is of a very recent origin. First it was used in Science and its success led it to be adopted in the teaching of all subjects in the School Curriculum.
The aim of this method is to develop the scientific attitude and spirit in pupils. The spirit of enquiry prompts the pupils to learn. This method insists on truth, whose foundation is based on reason and personal experiences.
As a matter of fact there is no spoon-feeding or more acceptances of facts which are given by the teacher. An eminent educationist has pointed out that the object of the heuristic method is “to make pupils more exact, more truthful, observant and thoughtful to lay this solid foundation for future self-education and to encourage this growth of spirit of enquiry and research.”
All the children in a class may be set to work simultaneously at this same problem in adopting the heuristic method. Each child with all attention strives to find out something for himself. Heuristic method aims at the pupils’ own observations to satisfy as many questions as possible to be raised in the teaching- learning situation.
Much is demanded of the teacher in the heuristic method of teaching. He should be a great reader of books in order to obtain varied information. The teacher should posses much curiosity, observation, interest and spirit of scientific investigation, because these are the qualities he wishes to develop in pupils. The teacher should realize the responsibility of fostering in this pupils good habits of reading and collecting various information from books.
In the heuristic method, the teacher is a guide and also a working partner. As a friend of pupils, this teacher should proceed on the way to discover facts. He is to see that this class room is pervaded by an atmosphere of freedom and that the work provided to the children encourages self-development, spontaneity and self-expression.
This method is used not only in teaching scientific subjects like Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Nature Study, but in all subjects of the curriculum. A close study of this method reveals that it is in reality this heuristic attitude which should characterize teaching of all subjects. It is opposed to dogmatic techniques of teaching, where pupils are passive learners. This may be applied to inductive as well as deductive lessons and thus heuristic method is problem- solving.
According to its author Prof. Armstrong, “Heuristic methods of teaching are methods which involve placing students as far as possible in the position of discoverers,—methods which involve their finding out instead of being merely told about things.” This statement speaks very Cleary that telling is in no teaching. The Heuristic method tends to set the learner himself on the track of invention and to direct him into the paths in which the author has made his own discoveries. Heuristic Method is learning by doing.