Brief notes on the Observation method of teaching geography

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The instinct of curiosity is the master instinct among children. Children, experience proves, are curious to see things for themselves. Their environment is full of things and objects about which children want to know everything. They have questions of which they want answers. The geography teacher exploits this instinct to make the teaching of geography interesting and meaningful.

The Method

Geography is essentially an observational science. Within the four walls of the class-room, the teaching of geography is limited to the globe, maps and the text-book. The real geography exists outside the class-room. The children should be made to observe geographical facts like the temperature, pressure, direction and velocity of the wind, clouds, rivers, lakes and mountains. The first hand experience about these phenomena of nature gives clear understanding of natural happenings.

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Outside the class-room, there are fields, crops, soil etc. which also forms part of geographical content. On the spot observation of these entities followed by discussion in the classes enriches children’s knowledge of geographical facts. The teacher of geography would like to make children study the surrounding environment, the landscape and what it offers to man to make his living meaningful.

Aids to Geographical Observation

Observation method for teaching geography may be used inside the class-room as well as outside the class-room.

Inside the class-room, the following aids help observation:

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(i) Globe. Globe is a useful aid. By observation, children can develops such concepts as longitude, latitude, meridian etc.

(ii) Charts. Charts prepared by children themselves or those commercially produced also enhance children’s observation.

(iii) Models. Children observe things and they can convert the results of their observation into models.

Outside the Class-room

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The teacher can enrich children’s observation by adopting certain modes outside the class-room. The teacher may use the following modes for this purpose.

(i) Field Trips. Field trips help in exploring the environment. Children may be taken out into the larger landscape to observe geographical objects, prepare brief notes, and collect specimens and so on.

(ii) Excursions. Excursions educate as well as entertain. Children learn by interacting with the environment. Excursions to hill stations, to geographical monuments help children to understand certain phenomena.

Merits of Observation Method

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1. Trains the pupils to observe and reason about the fact they observe. This method brings the students of geography into direct relationship with the environment.

2. By this method we interpret the unknown in terms of the known-the known by observation and experience. It is essentially an outdoor Work. Nothing should be allowed to take the place of direct observation whenever this is possible. So this is direct method of gaining geographic knowledge.

3. The merit of this method lies in the work and not in the results. It is training in intelligent observation and no in collecting the data.

4. This method develops the habit of accurate thought and investigation.

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5. It is based on the finding of psychology i.e. there is instinct of curiosity in every human being which prompts every human being to know.

Limitations of Observation Methods

1. Observational study makes a big demand on the out-of-class time of teachers and the students, which the time-table of the school does not permit in Indian schools.

2. This method is suitable for lower classes as the observation made by young children are necessarily limited.

3. Sometimes the observational study may degenerate into aimless wandering, wastage of much time and energy because of lack of understanding and direct action from the teacher. To let the children observe things without proper guidance and the knowledge may not be profitable at all. There must be proper guidance and the knowledge gained by observation must not be supplemented through other methods as actual observation of child is always limited.

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