Maphead: Chapter 2 Review – Bearing – by Tori Denney

I am Tori Denney and I am in the 9th grade at Lake Travis High School. I was born and raised in Austin, TX, have lived here for 14 years and have only moved houses once in my life. I am into my second year of learning to read, write and speak Spanish. I have only been to about 10 or more states in the US but as a family we go to a different state each year. I haven’t been outside of the United States, but in the future I wish to travel to many countries around the world including Spanish speaking countries to practice and explore varieties of the language and culture. I love being introduced to anything new.

My chapter is “Bearing”, chapter 2 of Maphead. The chapter begins with introducing that children often have an idea of place but it is very broad. From the youngest age kids always wonder where they are, but they’re most curious about the place that they call home. Topophilia is Greek for “love of place” and is mainly remembered and loved by memory of landscape. “Young Topophiles are most deeply shaped by the environments where they first became aware that they had an environment: they imprint…” (15). Humans and animals organize their minds in different ways. Two of these ways are location (by mental map) and memory (by chronologically important, childhood, breathtaking, etc.). If you are naturally able to read a map with no problems then you have great spatial skills. Not everyone is born with great special skills, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn and develop great spatial skills by studying. The same goes for your sense of direction; it can definitely get stronger as you become introduced and familiar with new places. This also grows over age. You start off when you are first able to get the gist of a map. First you won’t understand angle, representation, or scale at all. It’s natural for these things to confuse you because of human’s instincts vs new technology today. What people don’t realize is that they often make maps everywhere they go; it’s called a mental map. Mental maps are the recognition that you’ve been to a place before and you know your way around. Then, there’s instinct in animals where they are born knowing. “Flying on instinct, not a mental map from past experiences…” (23). “Every species is best in its own niche” (24).

While reading this book I learned so much about different places, vocabulary and especially maps. I had no idea how important maps truly are and how many varieties of maps there are that each serve a specific, important purpose. Ken Jennings’ love of the world is so inspiring and impactful. He is so full of knowledge about the world but he makes it very clear that there is still so much more to learn. This makes me realize how extremely little I know about the world, but also honestly what everyone should know about the world too. Nowadays people just don’t show enough interest. It’s instinct to know more and care more about your “home” location as it says in chapter 2, but I believe that we should widen our knowledge of the world and go beyond our human comfort zone.

In reviewing the book I would say I loved it because it has really opened my eyes and interested me in the world of human geography and I hope it does the same for others.

mental map

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