Basic Navigation

I had to laugh last week when I saw a news item on television. The story was about school program that takes kids outside to learn some skills. I went to a similar program when I was a child; it was referred to as Outdoor Education back then and it was a great a program. I am all for programs that take learning outside of the classroom.

The funny part of the news story was the interview. I can’t remember exactly who it was on camera but what he said really stuck with me. He praised the program and all the things it did for the children. He then said, “They’re learning basic navigation with a GPS.”


I laughed out loud (which doesn’t normally happen during the news.)

I’m not that old but when I learned basic navigation it was with a map and compass. I learned about the stars and how I could use them as a guide. I learned how to make a crude compass using the hands on my wristwatch, and failing that, how to make one using a stick to cast a shadow. That’s basic navigation. We didn’t have a portable computer to tell us where we were all the time. We didn’t have satellites to communicate with, and we did just fine.

It was really funny to hear this new definition of “basic navigation.” I wonder what people would do if they had to go back to reading maps, compasses, and the stars. Perhaps everyone would be lost all the time.

It seems like people are so starved for new technology that they forget the simple things in life. And it’s amazing that these devices have fallen in price so much that they are now readily available and accessible. But do we really need to alter our definition of “basic” now? I think not.