Hazards are an integral part of people-environment relationships. The impact of hazards locally and globally has become increasinglymore severe. particularly in the previous two decades. This is largely as a result of unwise human intervention in natural systems. The study of hazards at secondary school level affords valuable opportunities for learning about people-environment issues. This in turn, can promote a greater awareness of environmental problems. One of the most important current aims of Geographical Education is the development of critical thinking skills in pupils. Such skills are vital for equipping pupils with the necessary tools to understand and participate in solving the world's increasing human and environmental problems. The development of a critical faculty in pupils is best achieved by the use of learner-based participatory teaching strategies where pupils are involved in problem solving activities. Research has shown that British and South African Geography curricula reflect current thinking in Geographical education and learning theory. The 1992 Junior Secondary Geography Syllabus in line with these trends. includes a section for study on hazards. Hazards are presented primarily as case studies in modern Geographical texts. which is seen as one of the most effective ways of teaching hazards. Research however suggests that South African textbooks have certain shortcomings. notwithstanding the importance placed on textbooks by teachers in this country. This study investigated the extent to which case study teaching materials on hazards are optimising opportunities available for effective learning within an Environmental Paradigm. An evaluation methodology, which is believed to have value for use by other researchers, was developed to suit the specific requirements of the study. The study findings reveal a poor realisation of the current aims of Geographical Education and learning theory, regarding the South African teaching materials. Recommendations are made improvements in the development and use of local case teaching materials. Guidelines for the development of for study local materials are provided from case studies in British texts and from methods developed by the researcher.
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