Maphead: Chapter 3 Review – Fault – by Caroline Reckart

Hey. I’m Caroline R. I am a freshman in APHUG. My family flew over from Maryland to Texas to stay when I was just over five years old. As a preteen and early teen, I have enjoyed brief interludes in Florida, California, Seattle, Washington D.C, New York, and Angel Fire, New Mexico. I have yet to explore outside the country.

Chapter three, Fault, of Maphead, by Ken Jennings focused on the geographic illiteracy in today’s society. Geographic illiteracy (generally) is the inability or difficulty of placing somewhere on a map. It’s heavily linked with spatial reasoning and sense of place. Jennings gives an example: A college freshmen class taking a map test, told to locate thirty different places from the famous to the more exotic. The results of the test baffled the professor. “…more than half of his students couldn’t find Chicago. Or Iceland or Quebec or the Amazon rain forest. Fewer than one in three knew where Moscow and Sydney were. Eleven of his Miami students had even misplaced Miami!” (Pg 33). The media jumps on the findings and spreads the news. People start noticing the geographical slip ups of everyone from Miss Teen USA candidates to U.S. Senators. It seems America is hopeless!

Ken Jennings concedes, though, that the media does blow things out of proportion and leave out reasonable factors. He also chalks it up to the increasing dependence on technology for information. “We’ve chosen insulated lifestyles—insulated by car, by TV, by iPod or Internet or cell phone—that distance us from our surroundings, that treat any kind of navigation through or interaction with our environment as a necessary evil.” (Pg 43). He points out other contributors—the decrease of emphasis on geography in schools, in the outdoor activities area, and even the decline in the free time of children. People learn and often excel with space-names…but locating on a map is entirely different. Another example given was of an American couple traveling in Europe. They misspelled one letter in their GPS and ended up in some obscure micro-village. As Jennings points out: if they had used a map, they would have seen that where they were aiming to could not be reached in a two-hour car drive! Where they actually meant to go was over a days drive away!

It’s not saying that the world will end if someone who will probably never go to Somalia can’t locate it on a map, but the the seriousness is evident closer to home. Many people often get lost or delayed because they didn’t understand or ‘misread a map’. Furthermore, little simple mistakes can lead to catastrophes as they have in history, from bombs being dropped in the wrong location to accidentally entering a danger zone. Still, he expresses hope for the future. Funding and higher standard has been achieved nation wide, and with it, a possibility for geographical literacy.

Now, I was surprised to learn of the apparent issue with our generations geography. It’s all incredibly relatable, from the local issues we face with directions to the placing of important global locations on a map. I was even a little more embarrassed when I realized I was suffering from the same thing! It’s true that many teenagers spend a great amount of time focused on anything but geography, and it’s also true that many adults are just as inept. I also think it’s become such a problem because no one has ever considered it to be incredibly important to begin with. In this age, we are relying far too heavily on GPS and Google Maps, so dependent that when technology fails us (and it does) we don’t know what to do next! We are lost without our precious wifi signals, slaves to the monotone voice emitted from our phones. What happens when, one day, that voice goes silent? What then? image


3 thoughts on “Maphead: Chapter 3 Review – Fault – by Caroline Reckart

  1. I’ve already finished my posting but l just had to leave a comment here. You are so right about the way we view things. Some of us just want to brush off the fact that we are so dependent on the undependable. We put all our trust on these devices and never try to improve our flaws or learn for ourselves. He really throws that sobering statement at you. “What if this story has stuck around for centuries because every generation has been surprised by the rising generation’s EVEN POORER mastery of maps? In other words, what if we’re continually getting worse?”(Jennings 40) So now, that is my question to you. Do you think we are ‘continually getting worse’?


  2. I agree with what you stated about how teens and adults are not spending time thinking about geography or reading maps. I also agree that we wouldn’t know what to do without all of the technology surrounding us in a false sense of security.


  3. I really enjoyed your blog! When I first read it I was a little intimidated because we are doing the same chapter and I wasn’t sure if mine could be this good! I loved the way you reviewed this chapter and I do think it is scary that we depend so much on technology to locate and find things that we should know the location of! I was wondering if you speak any other language than English?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s