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Monday, September 06, 2010

How I teach Geography!!


As we celebrate ‘Teachers Day’ in India today, I want to share something I tried inadvertently six months ago but slowly gaining momentum to become a passion now – teaching geography.

When I learnt that many of the HOPE House girls struggle in geography I didn’t know why? So in February this year one of our British voluntary to buy few things, we requested her to buy us World, India and our State (Tamilnadu) maps which she graciously did and we framed and hung.
Everyday girls get a newspaper so we decided that everyone at least read one story of their choice from anywhere in the world but they must also identify the location of the story on the map(s). In the beginning, girls were not very excited but as the interest grew, it spread to others like virus and now I have to literally stop them from falling on the maps while identifying the locations.

Girls were taught then about continents and countries. Girls have gotten pretty good at that and then I was wondering how to keep the interest going. I suddenly remembered downloading ‘Google Earth’ on to my computer few months ago. Since they know now many parts of the world already, I show the girls different areas of the world simply on Google earth. Recently we learnt about ‘Suez Canal’ that connects Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, and the closest approachable land to ‘Antarctica’ (Chile).


While on Google earth we view the photos and videos at that particular location. For example, when we learnt that the ships from the US to India need not circumvent all the way around the horn of the African continent but through Suez canal, we simply went to the location of the Suez canal and viewed the photos and videos to get a glimpse of how the ships pass through and that seem to have helped the girls to remember the location much easily. Girls were amazed to see the pictures and videos of Antarctica and people working there.

Next exercise is to learn about the ‘Straits of Gibralter’ that connects African continent to European continent and the currencies of Asian countries. All of a sudden I am noticing that the interest level in the girls to learn Geography is quite high and It seem to be bearing fruit when I heard recently a girl saying that her teacher was surprised at her knowledge of all the districts of our state.

I realized now that a teacher can be effective when he/ she can also be a learner along with her students. I never liked Geography as a little boy but now I am enjoying learning while I am also teaching. 'Happy Teachers Day'

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