March 16, 2012
BENEFITS OF THE OLD AND HARDENED IN A GEOGRAPHY CLASS
It was to be a class without a teacher. Children had learnt about the different types of mountains, plateaus and planes almost a year back. They needed to do revisions before exploring the Indian relief, so their task was to look into the classification of landforms and make a plasticine model of each. The plasticines in our school had not been used for some time so I had to add a few fresh ones as back up. Once the task was explained, the children consulted their books and figured out how many models they would have to make. They started with the old plasticines but were struggling, so after a while I gave them the new ones.
The models revealed what the children had and hadn't learned. Their lava plateau was great, their eroded mountain and monadnocks were okay, but the block mountain was no more than a thickened version of the 2D picture from the book. So, we began to re-model the models.
The “old and hardened” could not be left out as we didn’t have enough of the plasticine. Just then, an idea struck. How about turning the “old and hardened” pieces into igneous rocks and the soft ones into sedimentary? We split a chunk of “igneous rock” and set the pieces a bit apart to become Angaraland and Gondwanaland, with Tethys in the middle. Then, we laid different color layers of sedimentary rocks in the “ocean.” Finally, Angaraland and Gondwanaland were pushed towards each other to create fold mountains. Similar steps ensured the lowering of Rift Valley. Eroded mountains were then “eroded” and dissected plateau was dissected. Mountains were raised along the border of intermontane plateau and two volcanoes were made – one with its top blown off. Finally “rocky” layers were raised or lowered to form respective types of planes, “silt” was deposited to create alluvial plane and a “river” trisected a piece of land with its distributary to form a delta.
The next morning a teacher went to see the models and came back confused about one spherical piece that was not labeled. When the teacher asked what that piece was, a senior student (now turning into a teacher himself) replied, “Earth” – an apt label for what was actually a ball of leftover plasticine!