Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Off the Specified Route

A couple of weeks ago, my friend, Kathy, drove me and another friend to a workshop about an hour away. Kathy did not worry much about finding the venue location, as her car has an onboard navigation system. It talks. A soft, pleasant female voice gives commands like, "prepare to turn left ahead."

However, Kathy has mixed feelings about her guide. The contraption does not appreciate it when the driver chooses her own route. "You are off the specified route," the voice will admonish. Then it will direct the driver to, "Make a 'U' turn as soon as possible," in an attempt to correct what it deems an error.

Kathy decided to ignore the onboard computer and take her own route, but the machine could not comprehend this deviation. It responded with repeated warnings about the importance of the specified route, and admonitions to turn back. We all laughed, but I probably laughed the loudest, as I saw a deeper meaning in the computer's messages. I noted that the computer's directions were much like those I had encountered from other experts, human experts. How many times I have been admonished for being "off the specified route!" Heaven forbid I should take the scenic route on a whim, make a side trip out of necessity, or visit a byway to satisfy my curiosity.

If I were to map my education, it would not be a linear "specified route." It would look more like a cobweb, (made by arachnids in the Theridiidae family) with threads weaving left and right, up and down, at every angle, and with points connected to points in a seemingly random fashion.

I like my cobweb of learning, and following a "specified route" does not interest me. My children would say the same, only they have had the whole of their lives to build their webs. It is a marvelous pleasure to watch them take shape.

1 comment:

h said...

What a cool post!

Many people who would tell a child not to stray from "the specified route" in life are not thinking any deeper than that automated voice. They are simply responding automatically to the slightest deviations from "normal".

If it were me I'd take my kids out and drive around on unspecified routes all the time, just to prove a point. =)