Hello, my name is Stefan D and I am in the 9th grade. I was born in North Carolina and moved to California when I was 3 years old. I then came to Austin when I was 6 and have lived here since. I traveled to Africa for two weeks during the winter break of second grade. I have also traveled around many parts of the mainland United States. We regularly drive to New Mexico every summer, allowing me to see large parts of west Texas. I have also been across much of the east coast of the US, and love to travel. I do not speak any foreign languages yet, but I am currently learning Latin.
I am covering the second chapter of maphead, titled Bearing. To begin this chapter, Jennings talks about how as a child, one of the most fundamental questions is “Where am I?”, and how “children want to know the answer on every level, from the micro local to the galactic” . But some people go above and beyond the normal desires to know their location and surroundings, these people are known as topophiles, as popularized by the geographer Yi-Fu Tuan. Jennings states that people who have good spatial skill and are geographically literate show more brain growth than those who do not. He does however, acknowledge that not everyone has an excellent sense of direction innately. He references David Uttal, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, who said that it tis not that people can’t read maps, but simply choose not to. Jennings describes how he tested this philosophy on his wife, who was an uncannily inaccurate navigator. They reviewed a road atlas of Washington DC, where they planned to visit that weekend. With proper preparation, she was able to lead them around the city without getting lost once.
Jennings goes on to describe how children can understand the basic idea of maps with no training. This is helped by the fact that ” Humans have been making mental maps millions of years longer than they have been written maps.” . Animals also seem to make mental maps of their surroundings and locations. He describes a story of how a Manx shearwater seabird was able to cross the Atlantic Ocean from boston to London before a letter sent at the same time. After spending enough time in a place, humans can learn their way around it using the local landmarks. Jennings concludes the chapter by stating that maps can show you where you have been and where you have not, and describes how exotic the small towns of Delaware seemed to him as a child.
I really enjoyed this chapter and book for several reasons. It was well written and it shows that there is a way to find your way somewhere if you prepare in advance. This really resonated with me because this is what happened to me at the beginning of this school year. This chapter adds a lot to the book as a whole and continues to set he mood and tone.