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Bring Geography Alive at School Level vs. Rediscovering Geography at Higher Educational Level in India

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Quiz after quiz has shown that children today do not know where some places are. How often have you heard this lament about “geographic ignorance” or “geographic illiteracy,” as it is commonly called?

Now, take that complaint and turn it around. What does it say about geography? It says geography means knowing where places are. That's what some geographers call “place-name geography.” It's vital, but it's the least of what we expect budding geographers to learn.

Geography is more than most people think. Geography is to space what history is to time. It is a spatial way of thinking, a science with distinctive methods and tools, a body of knowledge about places, and set of information technologies that have been around for centuries. Geography is about understanding people and places and how real-world places function in a viscerally organic sense. It's about understanding spatial distributions and interpreting what they mean. Geography is a dimensional science and humanity based on spatial logic in which locations, flows, and spatial associations are considered to be primary evidence of earth processes, both physical and cultural. Its hallmarks are spatial analysis, place-based research (e.g., regional studies, area studies, urban studies), and scientific integration.

The familiar litany also implies that geography is just for kids, something you learn in elementary school or high school if you're lucky, and use for the rest of your life without any need for new learning. Does geography really matter for grownups? Of course it does. Geographic knowledge, understanding, and skills matter, for instance, is important in formulating foreign policy, designing and using GIS, and just about everything else in society that involves locations, movements, and flows.

As seen today, there is a wide gap of geographic knowledge between school going children and the higher educational level. When making such a statement it does not mean that the same measuring scale is used. But to elaborate on this, it simply means that the weightage of geography as a subject at school level is becoming lighter and lighter these days. This is so because geography is now forming only a small segment of a syllabus to bring about one subject i.e., Social Science/Social Studies. This practice has really killed the thirst for obtaining more knowledge and information and in fact it has limit students to recognize geography as a subject. But on the other hand, at higher level the subject of geography has widened so much particularly with the advent of technologies- the use of computers and the combination of Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information System (GIS). The success and extensive use of these tools have penetrated to other streams and disciplines of studies in which these other streams have also adopted and borrowed the techniques of geography.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2009

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