Decline in Map Skills, a Worrying thing?

Having just read the article from the Telegraph [full link at the bottom], that I saw linked on FB, I decided to share it here and add my views on it. Most of the comments in the article discuss that the sale of OS maps are in decline and that map skill are also in decline.

I sum what disagree as I personally feel that map skills are not declining but that more people are getting into going outdoors as they become more complacent that they can get around but following direction with the use of technology at their disposal. A majority of these people probably don’t know how to properly operate their GPS device [which was most likely a perfect partner’s Xmas present].

Maybe what organisations such as Ordnance Survey could do is to have not only ‘Master classes’ on map read and compass work, but also get GPS device makers involved in helping to ‘Master class’ the use of these GPS units. After all most of the GPS units run on OS licensed maps. Some of these units are very sophisticated and can calculate very accurately. Which is great and can download new maps from the net in less time it takes to get a map from a shop or delivered if purchased online.

I do agree that there is no 100% replacement for education in map and compass skills. This is why I still teach map and compass work at Scouts, its a vital tool in the outdoors. The basics can be taught in the same time it takes to learn to use a new GPS unit. Map and compass skills over years of practise can become very second nature, its more fun and works without batteries!

I personally still live by the GPS i was taught with, Grass Pointing System which is a blade of grass pointing at my map where I am because I will know where I am, if I don’t I shouldn’t be there and thus not out in the hills. The only ‘GPS unit’ I own is a SPOT which is not a navigation unit but a emergency GPS locator unit.
Original Article.