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STATUS OF TEACHING GEOGRAPHY IN THE SECONDARY

SCHOOLS OF KERALA AND THE ASSOCIATED


MAJOR HURDLES

Abstract
The investigator made an attempt to study the major hurdles of teaching
geography in the secondary schools of Kerala. Survey method was used for this
purpose. The sample consisted of 408 teachers. It was found that teachers
handling geography are facing many hurdles due to: 1.lack of proper training. 2.
difficulty in understanding the concepts in geography textbooks. 3. teacher’s non-
attendance of non-compulsory quality improvement programmes. 4. poverty in the
use of innovative methods. 5. teacher’s incompetence in the usage of environmental
resources in their instructional processes. 6. ineptness in the use of real life
situations in teaching geography.7.not enough importance to environmental
awareness. 8. lack of skill or lethargy in the use of power point presentation and
digital pedagogy. The study concludes with innovative suggestions to clear off the
lacunae in teaching geography.

Introduction

The basic concept of education in the modern society is no longer concerned


with imparting of knowledge for the preparation of a finished product, but with the
awakening of curiosity, the development of proper interest, attitude and values and
building up of such essential skills. “The right kind of education is the awakening of
intelligence and the fostering of an integrated view of life.” (Krishnamoorthy, 1953),
thus it can be seen that the process of educational development is intricately linked
with the process of modernization.
Among the several sub-components of social studies, geography seems to be
the most difficult for pupils. Most teachers are not qualified to teach geography. They
find it difficult to teach and enunciate some of the difficult terminologies involved in

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teaching the subject with confidence and conviction. The result is that the notebooks
of pupils get filled up through lifting materials from bazaar notes. Even the so-called
‘projects’ are often lifted from printed-notes-material. When children use the materials
drawn from the children’s sections of newspapers, the educative value is higher, but
most of the products amount to just collages. In any case, the processes needed to help
pupils really understand the intricate concepts and principles in geography do not
seem to be nurtured even in the better schools.

Geography helps pupils to make sense of their surroundings and gain a


better appreciation and understanding of the variety of physical and human
conditions on earth. Though our classrooms are switching over to the use of
computers and latest technologies, it remains a fact that a vast majority of the teachers
are either lethargic or unable (untrained) to use the technology and adapt these new
methods to their teaching styles. The fact that only 2% of the teachers are applying the
latest technology in the classroom exposes the gravity of the situation

Books on teaching geography such as Varma and Vedanayagam(1991) and


Rao(1993) recommended aids such as maps, pictures, blackboard, bulletin boards,
models, globes, meteorological and survey instruments, rock specimens, films and
filmstrips, epidiascope, geography room and its adjuncts. Aspects like map
projections, land surveying, contours and rocks are actually physical science, though
not labeled as such. But in the science- labeled subjects at least the better schools
strive to produce the scientific – technical atmosphere, while the science part in
geography is just verbalized by almost all teachers.

The switch over to the use of information technology and other resources are
available only to the elite and city schools with hardly any inputs in rural and semi-
urban situations in India. It should also be appreciated that most of our population are
still rural and semi-urban. Most teachers, due to resource unavailability or lack of
knowledge, continue to stick on to conventional methods, which never creates active
learning of geography. In addition, studies on environmental education through
learning of geography are found to be very rare in India, especially in the Kerala
context.

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The review of related literature shows that a number of investigations have
been carried out in the field of environmental education and learning of geography
using latest technologies. Studies made by Uzunboyl et al. (2009) and Dober, (2009)
have reported the influence of multimedia presentation in environmental education
as effective in the achievement of students. Stewart (2008) studied on outdoor
educational practices in the teaching of geography to address the environmental
issues. Scheyvens et al. (2008) conducted a study on experimenting with active
learning in geography.
Objectives

1. To find out the major hurdles of teaching geography in Kerala.


2. To find out the status of teaching practices adopted by teachers for the
teaching of geography in Kerala
Methodology

A ‘need assessment survey’, was conducted initially, by using a questionnaire


with 40 items. The investigator selected 408 secondary school teachers from
Pathanamthitta and Thiruvananthapuram districts for conducting the ‘need assessment
survey.’ The following dimensions were included in the survey: the concepts of
teaching Geography, training programmes, innovative methods of teaching, in-service
programmes, use of real life situation in teaching and creating environmental
awareness among students.

The following major hurdles are prominent in teaching geography

Problem Dimensions Yes No


Teachers who were not trained in the teaching of geography 96%(361) 4%(47)
Teachers who had difficulties in understanding the concepts 71.8%(293) 21.9%(115)
in geography textbooks
Teachers who were attending noncompulsory quality 17.1% (70) 82.9% (338)
improvement programmes.
Teachers who had adopted innovative methods in the 14% (57) 86% (351)
teaching of geography
Teachers, used environmental resources in their instructional 29% (118) 71%(290)
processes
Teachers used real life situations in their teaching 47% (191) 53% (216)
Awareness on the environmental references 33% (134) 67% (273)
Teachers, used power point presentations and resorted to 2% (8) 98% (400)
digital pedagogy in the teaching of geography

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A Major hurdle as responded by a vast majority of teachers are that they are
not themselves geographically literate. They expressed their ardent feelings for
professional geographers to teach them the nature of geographic literacy which would
be effective in educating teachers for the task of teaching geographic concepts.
Utilization of the professional geographers are seemingly lesser and their ability to
help the geography teachers were also found limited. However, there are many
geographers who are devoted to the task of geography teaching and are actively
involved in the remediation of this problem.

Another problem can be traced to the lack of training received during teacher
training period, and professional in-service training programmes attended and the
difficulty in implementing the newly learned approaches in the learning of
Geography. The other problems are the school environment, rigidity of time table,
locale of the school, restricted syllabus and content oriented examination pattern.

The table given above reveals that 96% teachers who handled geography
subjects were not trained in the teaching of geography. The study also indicated
that71.8% of the teachers faced difficulty in understanding the concepts in geography
textbooks. Vast majority (82.9%) of teachers had not attended the noncompulsory
quality improvement programmes and other majority (86%) (351) had not applied
innovative methods; they just followed the conventional methods of teaching. 71% of
teachers did not use environmental resources in their instructional activities. It is seen
that only 47% of teachers used real life situations in their teaching and when
awareness on the environmental references were considered, majority (67%) of the
teachers were unaware of the need for environmental awareness. In addition, the
survey revealed that vast majority of (98%) of teachers had not applied any
technology in their teaching process.

The areas of special significance that created hurdles are Lack of proper
training, Difficulty in understanding the concepts in geography textbooks, Teacher’s
non-attendance of non-compulsory quality improvement programmes, Poverty in the
use of innovative methods, Teacher’s incompetence in use environmental resources in
their instructional processes, Ineptness in the use of real life situations in teaching

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geography, Not enough importance to environmental awareness and Lack of Skill or
lethargy in the use of power point presentations and digital pedagogy.

References

Deboer, Jennifer (2009). The relationship between environmental factors and usage
behaviors at "hole-in-the-wall" computers. International Journal Of
Educational Development, 29 (1) 91-98.

Hartshone, Richard (1994). The Nature of Geography. Jaipur: Rawat Publications.

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1953).Education And The Significance Of Life United States:


Harper Publishers

Verma & Vedanayagam (1991). Geography Teaching, New Delhi: Sterling


Publishers Private Limited

Scheyvens , R. et al. (2008). Experimenting with Active Learning in Geography:


Dispelling the Myths That Perpetuate Resistance. Journal of Geography in Higher
Education, 32 (1) 51-69.

Stewart, Alistair (2008). Outdoor education practice. Journal Of Adventure Education And
Outdoor Learning, 8 (2) 79-98 .

Uzunboylu, H.; Cavus, N. & Ercag, Erinc (2009). Using mobile learning to increase
environmental awareness. Computers & education; 52 (2) 381-389.