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Chapter: 11th 12th std standard Geography earth space Higher secondary school College Notes

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Map interpretation : Basic Principles of Map Reading

In developing map reading abilities and skills, certain basic principles must be applied by the map-reader to translate map symbols into landscape images.

Basic Principles of Map Reading

 

In developing map reading abilities and skills, certain basic principles must be applied by the map-reader to translate map symbols into landscape images.

 

=      Map Reader must have ideas about the symbol and also the Real World (Landscapes). This is called the perception of the symbols and the Real World.

 

=      If these two are correctly revealed, then the understanding of the map will exactly (correctly) coincide with the Real World (Landscapes)

 

Principle 1: Visualizing Map Symbols

 

Every map symbol must be visualized by the student as learning to read a map begins. The first symbols introduced should be those, which refer to landscape features of which the student already has some images. The teacher must help the student to associate his/her own experiences with the map symbols. The geography teacher must be equally careful in seeing that the student associates the map symbols with the actual landscape features.

 

One way of doing this is to make a simple map of the immediate area of the school. This map may be drawn on the floor of the schoolroom or on a thick chart paper laid on the floor. The students should select their own symbols for roads, highways, houses or other buildings, a railroad, a stream, or other items of the landscape.

 

The teacher may also help them to visualize map symbols by the use of pictures. The teacher should collect pictures of rivers, falls, peninsulas, capes, islands, mountain ranges, mountain passes and other natural features. Such pictures should be large, if possible. Charts with map symbols and accompanying pictures may also be purchased from map companies.

 

Later, when checking the student's visualization of the map symbols, the teacher may ask the child to sketch an island, a lake, a river with a waterfall in it, and so forth. The teacher may also ask the students to select a set of pictures which represent certain designated map symbols.

 

Principle 2: Conventional Symbols and Terms

 

Map symbols should be introduced as needed (they were introduced already in Plus 1 / Standard XI Geography textbook, Lesson 12, Page 150). In most schools, and in textbooks, the conventional map is introduced at a low level. At this age, the child begins to use maps for locating places and tracing trips beyond his/her own local area. The map symbols introduced at higher levels should be those needed in developing a specific unit. The term 'tributary' and how to recognize a tributary on a map may be explained by pictures and discussion. The terms 'source' of a river and 'mouth' of a river also need illustration and discussion with pictures and sketches associated with the symbols on the map. From time to time, additional symbols are added to the student's map vocabulary.


Principle 3: Knowledge of Directions

 

The children should know the cardinal directions. One of the basic functions of maps is to help us to orient ourselves and to locate places on the earth. Unless a student knows the cardinal directions, he or she may not use a map effectively. The teaching of direction should be done in the early classes by means of Sun's position. But in almost every higher class some re-teaching of the same is necessary. Before locating features using a map, north should be determined and the students should have practice in finding this direction. Next they should learn to read direction on a specific map and the location of the features shown on the map in relation to one another.

 

If a teacher follows the three basic principles above for teaching map symbols, and gives constant and varied exercises in reading maps, the students will really learn to effectively read maps.


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