Tuesday, July 05, 2016

On Learning

We had what I thought was a great idea to learn about the Grand Rapids area (and I probably mentioned this before--if so, sorry): get a map and mark off a 10x10 grid. 100 squares to explore, and we would notate all the interesting stuff that seemed to warrant additional time.

What I didn't realize, though, is how scarce paper maps are today.

I've shown Eli 14.11 one of the big, foldable paper maps before. "How did anyone find anything with one of these?" he asked, and that's a good question, because paper maps were hard to use.

If you're too young to remember, they were hard to use because there was no reference to your current location, which is what makes Google Maps so brilliant (among many other reasons). So
you could see a dead representation of the area around you with a map, but if you didn't know where you were, you would still be very lost. Plus, trying to read a paper map as you were driving was a bad idea, but you almost had to do it sometimes.

Reading and using paper maps was definitely an acquired skill, a craft.

Now, though, with the much superior Google product, and with almost everyone having a phone, paper maps are on their way out. That seems impossible to me, but it's true.

Today, though, I found a big map of Grand Rapids that I could order online, so we'll still get to do our grid explore project. It just feels strange to not be able to walk into a convenience store and see a big rack of paper maps.

I've noticed something else about Google Maps, and it's related to how I learn. I'm learning how everything connects together more slowly because I realized that when I'm using Google Maps, I tend to ignore street signs. I'm just sort of in auto-pilot mode, listening, but I'm not seeing anything.

I didn't realize this until yesterday, but when I did, I started using Google Maps to plan out a route, then turned it off while I drove, trying to find landmarks and cues so that I actually know where I'm going.

We're still unpacking a billion boxes, and there will probably be Grand Rapids/moving in posts for another few days, but that's because driving Eli to/from the rink and unpacking boxes is basically my entire life right now.

Oh, and tennis. We are playing a ton of tennis.

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