The Royal Institute of Navigation praises analog maps, claims our brains are "sedated by software"
A dependance on satellite navigation systems and smartphones is threatening to eradicate the youth's knowledge of map and compass reading, according to the Royal Institute of Navigation.
The institute is encouraging UK schools to teach analog navigation skills. They see this as not only practical - phone batteries die, service cuts out, and not every little backcountry path is outlined on Google Maps - but also as a means to “develop character, independence and an appreciation of maths and science."
The Institute's president, Roger McKinlay, says we are becoming “sedated by software”. With the convenient ability to find answers at the click of a button, our brains are challenged less and less to solve problems. "Our view is that reliance on computers presents no conceptual challenges”, says the Institute. "The human brain is left largely inert and untaxed while calculations are made electronically, by a software ‘brain’ without the elasticity to make connections and judgements.”
Much has already been written about the subject, since 2007 and earlier. In 2014, The Guardian talked to Tom Harper, curator of antiquarian mapping at the British Library, who didn't lament too much about analog skills, point to much smaller worlds of the past that didn't need interractive, massive maps: “In the medieval period right the way through to the 19th century, people could live perfectly happily in their locality without ever having knowledge of or care for the wider world.” Maybe this other, larger world requires other, larger skills than analog map tinkering.