The Weekend Assignment: Maps

This week’s Weekend Assignment is to learn something new about Maps.

When was the first map created, what were maps used for, and what do modern day maps look like? These are a few avenues that you could explore.

But before you start your weekend going on a map quest let’s explore the last Weekend Assignment. Let’s explore Writing.

The written word is immensely powerful. It has been a window to the past, a predictor of the future, and it has been the wisest of all teachers.

Before any written language we only had the spoken words of a few to teach us our past. Over years, over generations, stories would change and the past would morph into myth.

Myths such as the legend of the Trojan War. A vast Greek army invading a foreign shore to fight a war over a stolen Greek Queen. Heroes such as Achilles, Ajax, and Hector fought bravely, and died nobly. This myth grew out of the stories people told each other, and eventually the truth got buried under fable, when at last it was written down.

The true story behind the Trojan War is still a mystery. Many historians believe that the war did in fact take place, but they cannot parse the fact from fiction. The tale’s most famous telling came from Homer’s Iliad. In it we get the most notable aspects such as the nearly immortal Achilles, and the Trojan Horse.

While many believe Homer’s tale was born from an historical event, others think that the story is a complete myth. This is another side to the power of the written word, its ability to rewrite history and to subvert the truth. When it comes to a story like the Iliad it is fair to say that it is a work of fiction, but even historical recountings are subject to fiction.

There is a well known quote that reads, “History is written by the victors”, and it is true in the sense that it is the Loudest and most powerful voices that shape how we see our past. This issue would have been more prevalent in ancient times when it was only a few that recorded events and wrote them down. Today everyone is a scribe, recording and documenting the world. However, falsehoods still permeate and blind people to the truth.

The best way to combat false information is to vary the sources that you read, to think critically, and to be open to being wrong.

Saylor Academy has a few courses that could be useful in becoming more critically minded. Here are a few:
BUS403: Negotiations and Conflict Management
ENGL001: English Composition I & ENGL001: English Composition II
PSYCH101: Introduction to Psychology

Another great resource is an article on the site Better Humans, called ‘Cognitive bias cheat sheet‘, by Buster Benson.

Whether you are reading a novel, a textbook, or a newspaper, remember to look for the Trojan Horse, the deception that feeds your bias. Remember that the written word is powerful, but not infallible, and remember to question everything.

Have a great weekend learning the secrets of cartography, and don’t forget to have fun.

Share what you learn with us on Twitter by tagging us and using #SaylorAssignment or start the conversation on Discourse.

Top Comments

  1. So... I bought a map from my local city hall with the goal of walking every street in the city. There are 3 cities that border my home town and one of the things I realized is that my perception of where one city ended and another began was incorrect in several places. I expect this goal to take a year to accomplish, but I'm excited to get out and explore the city in a new way. False information to be discovered? We shall see.

  2. DavidT says:

    I hope you keep us posted on your city exploring adventure. Do you mind if I ask what city you're exploring?

    • David (Social Media Coordinator for Saylor Academy)
  3. Hello David, The adventure has been quite fun! I live in the suburbs of Vancouver, Canada. The city is Coquitlam. It is lovingly called part of the TRI CITIES, along with Port Coquitlam and Port Moody. Coquitlam running North to South borders a small mountain range and the Fraser river with a significant hill and valley in between.
    Thanks for the weekend assignments! It is always a good challenge to learn or venture into something new.

  4. sean says:

    I took a "Humans in the Landscape" course in which one author -- I don't recall who it was -- talked about how most people, if their paths were traced out, have encountered far less of their hometown than they might suppose. All the streets that one has simply never gone down because there aren't relevant friends or businesses there, or because there are shorter paths to a frequent destination.

    I enjoy the related experience of noticing a thing for the first time after having seen it many times -- walking a route I would usually drive can certainly produce that.

  5. Thanks for your input, Sean. Yes you are so right. Walking makes you see things. Just today I walked with my sister, who has lived in the area for years. We came across a park that neither of us knew existed. Hidden treasures. New experiences.

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