As I’m driving through fog this morning, I can’t help but wonder if advanced technologies like GPS will fundamentally change how people approach the world. I don’t mean in the technophobic sense where people panic that nobody will learn how to use a map, but in the thought process behind plotting your route. GPS gives one the impression that you can easily see your destination and the steps needed to get there.
And that’s the narrative that kids get all the time. We teach kids that they can be whatever they want; that they can carefully plot out their lives to get there. But the reality winds up being much more like driving without a map.
You drive a little way, and as the next set of choices reveals itself to you, you have to make a decision about which way you believe will take you closer to where you want to end up.
If not for my mistakes and wrong turns in life, I certainly wouldn’t have a degree in photography. I never would have built my spatial reasoning skills while working in the frame shop. I wouldn’t have had to remediate my college career, and in consequence wind up meeting and working with the awesome faculty of the General Studies program at SUNYIT. I might never have lived in Utica, or had the opportunity to work in a public library, academic library, and school library system – all before entering library school.
Wrong turns are not something to fear. They might make the journey take longer, but they almost invariably enrich it.
I hope that the process of growing up won’t become so structured – so scheduled, so mechanized, so efficient that people who take those wrong turns are left behind. We can pretend we have GPS for real life, but really we’re all driving in the fog.