Teaching Geographical Concepts and Skills in Primary Social Studies, pp. 3 of 13

Lastly, human-environment interaction refers to the relationship between people and their environments and the impacts they have on one another.  The environment can play a part in determining the kinds of crops cultivated and the farming methods adopted. However, the use of technology can overcome environmental constraints for people to grow crops that were previously impossible. For instance, the introduction of greenhouses has enabled farmers in the tropics to grow temperate crops such as strawberries and cherry tomatoes.

In the primary social studies curriculum (MOE, 2012), the places students will study include their schools, neighbourhoods, housing estates, farms, transport networks, heritage places and recreational places. They will learn that as space is limited in Singapore and there are competing demands for different types of land uses arising from people’s changing needs, aspirations and expectations, there is a need to optimize and balance the use of space amongst these demands. Students will learn that although Singapore is a city in a garden, it is an urbanized human environment and it is important for them to care and protect the environment to ensure sustainable development and quality living for every one and the future generations.

How to Teach Geographical Concepts?

Teachers can teach students geographical concepts by providing them certain experiences with places. They can provide them direct experiences such as conducting a walk in the school ground or around the neighbourhood or doing fieldwork at a park. They can provide vicarious experiences for their students too. For instance, they can show them photographs or videos or read them stories about places or discuss with them issues pertaining to places.

Teaching Using Deductive and Inductive Approaches

Besides the provision of experiences with places for students, teachers need to think about the teaching approach. Good geographical teaching builds up students’ understanding of concepts, and is not about providing them a laundry list of geographical facts such as names of places and information about crop and mineral productions (Brophy & Alleman, 2007). Conceptual teaching can be achieved through deductive or inductive approaches. In the former, the concept definition is first provided before the examples are given, whereas in the latter, the examples are shown first, followed by the definition of the concept (Van Cleaf, 1991). The two approaches are shown in Strategy Example 1 below whereby the concept of physical environment is taught inductively and the concept of human environment is taught deductively.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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