DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: MY SISTER AND I DISAGREE ON THIS ISSUE. WE WERE BOTH TAUGHT TO READ MAPS WHEN WE TOOK A FAMILY CAR TRIP. MY SISTER SAYS TIMES HAVE CHANGED AND WE CAN RELY ON THE MAPS ON OUR PHONES. I THINK THAT MAP READING SKILLS ARE VALUABLE AND SCHOOLS SHOULD CONTINUE TO TEACH THEM. WHAT DO YOU THINK? Chrissy, Sebastapol
Dear Chrissy: Good Question! There’s no doubt that a lot of things we used to do by hand have migrated to the phone- for example, long division and address books. That said, map reading is something that I would not want to entirely depend on electronically, although Digital Natives might disagree. Maps are, by definition, representations of the outside world, and we should always consider their distortions or biases (remember the flat map?). Second, the maps on our phone are so small so we literally don’t see “the big picture.” You asked whether that skill should be taught in schools- only if they still teach geography!!